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

1996 – Part 5.3: Michael Schenker Group – Written In The Sand

Every label head said Schenker was finished, washed up.

It’s 1991 and a supergroup called Contraband drop their debut album. And it keeps on dropping because it is so bad. The nice advance payment that Schenker got to be involved in the project didn’t do much to enhance or move forward his career. In fact his manager and ex-partner took most of it.

But he stays alive, because he’s a lifer. When you have been in the game for this long, the only thing you know how to do is play. And play he did. He jumped on board the unplugged bandwagon and released an album. He called up Robin McAuley and released another McAuley Schenker studio album.

Then he re-unites with Phil Mogg and they start writing. The songs got the labels interested and the “Walk On Water” album from UFO, released in 1995 surprised everyone. Suddenly Schenker was back on the agenda and he’s getting money thrown at him again. He had a lot of bad people in his life at this point in time, from managers and partners, so it was always going to happen that MSG would return.

I didn’t think it would be that quick. Because a year after “Walk On Water”, “Written In The Sand” is released, the eighth full-length studio album that falls under the MSG brand.

The only thing consistent with all of these MSG albums is the name and Michael Schenker himself. The other members are in a constant flux. For this album, Schenker is joined by Leif Sundin on vocals, Shane Gaalaas on drums, and Barry Sparks on bass. All the music is by Michael Schenker and all lyrics by Leif Sundin.

Ron Nevison is doing all the Producing, Engineering and Mixing.

It’s not on Spotify which irks me, but YouTube has it.

Brave New World

It’s got groove, swing and lot of rock and roll. And the first thing that grabs my attention are the vocals from Leif Sundin. His voice is very melodic, fluid and unique. I would say he’s up there as one of the best singers in MSG.

The lead breaks are impressive, with Schenker even soloing over a harmony solo which acts as a rhythm guitar.

Cry No More

Press play to hear the intro. Its heavy and a lot of acts who went alternative to survive weren’t doing riffs like this during this period. The song could have been on a Deep Purple album and it wouldn’t be out pf place.

I Believe

It’s a ballad that turns into a rocker. It’s not original, yet it is an easy listen.

Back to Life

No one was writing riffs like this in 1996. Its old school and I like it. Barry Sparks is massive on the bass here as well.

Written in the Sand

This track is essential MSG. It has a sleazy bluesy riff and a lot of melody. And Schenker delivers a tasty guitar-solo in the middle and for the outro.

Essenz

It wouldn’t be an MSG album without an instrumental. This one has an “Eruption” vibe before moving into a fast blues. Think of “Hot For Teacher” when it picks up.

Love Never Dies

Imagine “Finish What Ya Started” merging with the melodic rock genre. Well this is the outcome. Another close favourite with a killer Schenker lead break.

I Will Be There

Press play to hear the verse riff. Schenker makes it sound technical, yet it rocks so fluidly.

Take Me Through the Night

Its classic heavy metal while the singing is happening and the solo section is barroom blues brawling.

It wouldn’t be out of place on any metal album from the early 80’s.

Down the Drain

The album closer showcases how Schenker decorates in a creative way. You cannot ignore how good it is.

While Schenker’s North American career had stalled, he was still a big draw in Japan and certain European markets. And just like that, the whole “Contraband” affair was forgotten. That is if you heard the album. Which wasn’t easy to do.

Crank it.

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Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – July 18 to July 25

2018 (4 Years Ago)

ANEW REVOLUTION

Whatever happened to Anew Revolution?

I was a fan back in the day and I still enjoy cranking their tunes. They released two official albums that I am aware off, in “Rise” (2008) and “iMerica” in 2010. There was an “Unplugged EP” in 2012 and a Kickstarter project that release new songs to the backers only in 2014.

I hope Anew Revolution make more music. They have fans. We probably won’t make the band millions, but we will listen.

Check out my review of “Rise” here?

WITHHOLDING MUSIC FROM STREAMING

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. 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 on the charts.

The label did have good intentions to keep you in the business and the label would promote you. All at your cost of course. But the truth is, it was harder to keep a record deal than to get a record deal. Especially if you didn’t sell. And even more so, once MTV came out and you didn’t sell.

Kiss 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 during this period.

Yep, two albums. “Sonic Boom” and “Monster”. But for all of the complaining about streaming they did, the Kiss catalogue was on Spotify Australia. Then half of it was off. Then it was back on after a few weeks off. Madness.

I’m against bands withholding their music from a service that people legitimately pay for.

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.

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 streaming is seen as it’s saviour.

Think forward, not backwards.

THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA

What can I say, there is something about TNFO and the music they create that hits a nostalgic spot for me. And I’m digging it.

Album number 4, “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” is full of massive sing-along choruses and derivative versions of some of the best pop songs ever written.

For example, if you like Deep Purple, Supertramp and Rainbow, then you will like the opening track “This Time”.

And that’s how the album flows. A road trip down memory lane, done in a new way.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

I was preparing for my European holidays.

A day before our flight, the news doing the rounds was the MH17 disaster. Then our flight got changed to an earlier time. But no one told us until the last minute.

And I had questions.

Because the new schedule would give us an 8 hour stopover in Bangkok instead of the normal 2 hour stop over.

And holidaying is meant to be relaxing and easy.

Thanks for reading folks, that’s another wrap of DOHistory.

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

2001 – Part 5.1: The Calling – Camino Palmero

The Calling, was formed by Alex Band (lead vocals) and Aaron Kamin (lead guitar, backing vocals).

They weren’t a modern alternative rock band to start off, with David Matthews Band style influences. But, next door to Alex Band, was Ron Fair, a music business executive.

Imagine that, your neighbour was a Chairman at Geffen Records, then Virgin Records and prior to Geffen, he was President of A&M Records and held Senior Positions at RCA Records, Chrysalis Records and EMI Records.

On top of that he was also known as a “mentor” to unsigned artists. Apart from The Calling, other artists he mentored that made it to major label releases are Christina Aguilera, Vanessa Carlton, Keyshia Cole, The Black Eyed Peas and Fergie, and the Pussycat Dolls.

Between 1996 and 1999, the guys kept writing and demoing, and by 1999, Ron Fair was impressed enough to sign them to a deal with RCA.

The name of the band was originally, “Generation Gap”, then “Next Door” and after getting signed, they became “The Calling”.

Their sound through the years morphed to be more influenced by Matchbox Twenty, Third Eye Blind, early Maroon 5, Train and Fastball.

The RCA deal was huge for a band that hadn’t played any shows whatsoever, nor did they have a fan base. I suppose it pays dividends to live in the same suburb as a record label exec.

And Ron Fair, just kept working with em over that two year period until they had the songs ready to record an album.

The players on the album, joining Band and Kamin are Sean Woolstenhulme on rhythm guitar, Billy Mohler on bass and Nate Wood on drums.

The debut album “Camino Palmero” was released in July 2001 and was a commercial success. The cover art of the album represents platforms 5 and 6 of the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence, Italy but the name of the album comes from a LA street where the Band and Kamin first met.

All tracks are written by Alex Band and Aaron Kamin, except “Stigmatized” which was co-written with Eric Bazilian.

Unstoppable

As soon as the song starts its recognizable and when I heard the strummed acoustic guitar in the verses, “Alone” from Heart came to mind straight away.

A great opener but it is lost in the world of streaming right now as it doesn’t even rate a mention in their Top 5 streamed songs on Spotify.

Nothing’s Changed

It reminds me of Bush.

Wherever You Will Go

The big hit at 429.6 million streams on Spotify. And the acoustic version of the song has 33.8 million streams.

The vocal melody is catchy and I like the way it moves between acoustic arpeggios, strummed acoustic guitars and then a light distortion in the Chorus.

Could It Be Any Harder

I like the country rock ballad feel on this and the vocal reminds me of Lifehouse. Four songs in, its a 4 punch knockout.

Final Answer

The acoustic alt rock style is evident here, more Tonic and Lifehouse and man, I dig it.

Adrienne

More Matchbox 20 like.

We’re Forgiven

If you are a country then this song would resonate, however it’s a skip for me.

Things Don’t Always Turn Out That Way

It’s got a cool start, with a progression reminiscent to “Glycerine” from Bush and a Fastball “The Way” chorus.

Just That Good

It’s a skip for me.

Thank You

Press play for the Chorus.

Stigmatized

A great closer with a nice vocal. It sounds like a lot of alt rock/soft rock bands, but I don’t care.

In a post Napster world, the album did rack up a few certifications along the way. Brazil is one of the biggest markets when it comes to piracy and the country made the album a Platinum success. So did the UK and Italy. Canada and the US, gave it a Gold certification.

In November 2003, former members Wood and Mohler sued Band, Kamin, and the group’s management, accusing them of mismanagement, fraud, and asking for an audit of the money that was spent during their tenures in The Calling.

They claimed that they were promised a share of the royalties and profits from touring and merchandise. Band and Kamin claimed that the two were not entitled to any records of the royalties.

Their second album “Two”, was released in June 2004.

But the album didn’t perform well commercially compared to the debut. Ron Fair was no longer Executive Producer, replaced by Clive Davis. Davis was all about the hit, right now while Fair was more about career longevity. The record features the original members Alex Band and guitarist Aaron Kamin along with a variety of session musicians.

The band or duo broke up in 2005, but in 2013, The Calling reformed with a new line-up and they still operate today with a new album on the horizon.

But even that was bizarre as Alex Band in that same year, sued Aaron Kamin for “disappearing from the public eye” and Band wanted full rights to “The Calling” name and songs. But the case was dismissed only to resurface later when Band was promoting a “reunion” show which didn’t involve Kamin.

On top of that Band was almost beaten to death after a show that required a jaw bone reconstruction and three implants.

The music business is vicious. But check out the debut. It’s excellent.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – March 21 to April 3

It’s a two week DOH history this time around as lack of time stopped last weeks edition.

2018 (4 Years Ago)

1984 – Part 1

I was doing a review of the year 1984, Read here for my thoughts on Dokken – “Tooth And Nail”, Van Halen – “1984”, Twisted Sister – “Stay Hungry”, RATT – “Out of the Cellar”, Iron Maiden – “Powerslave”, Bruce Springsteen – “Born In The USA” and Stryper – “The Yellow and Black Attack”.

Ritchie Blackmore

“Being original doesn’t require being the first to do something. It just means being different and better.”
Adam Grant, Originals

History is always written by the winners. If you read any story about Metallica today, it more or less states that “Kill Em All” came out in 1983 and took over the world on release day.

Ritchie Blackmore has been instrumental in influencing guitarists.

But between Deep Purple and Rainbow and three different vocalists, Ritchie Blackmore, blew the paradigm open of what a heavy rock vocalist should sound like. And it’s something he doesn’t credit for.

He pushed Ian Gillian to the limits to record the ohhs and ahhs on “Child In Time” influencing a young Bruce Dickinson to start practicing hard, and getting another unknown singer called Rob Halford to change his vocal style.

Both of these singers would come out with styles that would also influence a generation.

With David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio he pushed the boundaries even more who influenced another generation of Metal singers.

From a guitarist perspective, it’s hard not to be influenced by Blackmore. Blackmore’s fusion of blues, rock and roll, classical and medieval Influences was so commercially successful, he more or less spawned a new style of guitar playing called Euro Rock/Metal.

And from a band perspective, every single Metal guitarist at that point in time was inspired by Blackmore to find a vocalist who had similar/better talents to the vocalists Blackmore used.

lf the band was started by a drummer and a bassist, they would be looking for a guitarist like Blackmore and a vocalist like Gillian, Coverdale or Dio.

Twitter

“Here’s a challenge for you (and no using the internet for the answer): Can you name all 7 (unsuccessful) albums I’ve done solo or been a part of with a band since I left Twisted Sister in 1987?

A Twitter post from Dee Snider.

For a very long time, the record labels convinced everyone that the only way to define success was by sales. But people might have purchased an album, heard it once and never heard it again.

Dee said further on;

“While I’m proud of all the work I’ve done, YES success is defined by sales. I’m long past “making music for my own head”. Once you’ve had public acceptance of your art, you yearn for it.

The truth is, there is no secret formula for hits.

Artists always had a short life span at the top. Most of the 70’s acts would have been dead and forgotten if there was no MTV television in the 80s.

Which someone else replied that Dee’s album, “We Are The Ones” was excellent with the following questions;

“Do you consider it unsuccessful? Is success only defined by album sales or rather by the quality of the product?”

Another person commented that just because it isn’t popular it doesn’t mean it’s not valid and that music touches people in different ways.

And here we are again wondering what success is.

“Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker is still Dees best album post Twisted Sister. For me, it’s highly influential.

Dee delivered a stellar vocal performance and Al Pitrelli also produced the goods in the guitar department, while Joey Franco and Marc Russell underpinned it all.

Of course, Desperado (the post TS band that got stiffed by Elektra on release day) guitarist Bernie Torme co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on the album, so he deserves a huge 10 out of 10 for his stellar riffage and songwriting.

If you’ve read Dee’s book, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” Dee had to buy back the Desperado songs from Elektra who claimed ownership of them due to the label financing the demo song writing sessions.

The thing is, a lot of the albums which are really influential to people are rarely commercially successful.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

RANDY RHOADS

I remember the day that I got the “Tribute” tab book.

Studying the style of Randy Rhoads, I learned all about modes and the different scales that are made from each note of the mode, like Ionian, Phyrgian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. I even named my son Dorian after one of the modes. It’s so easy to dismiss musical theory, however when you have an actual song that you can refer to, it makes it so much sense.

Wolf Marshall did an unbelievable job with the book transcription and on the commentary on each song. Actually Wolf Marshall was the transcription god back then. Another was Dave Whitehill. Experienced, super-talented and knowledgeable guitar players that broke down so many doors with their transcriptions and made it easier for young guitar players to pick up the guitar and practice.

“Crazy Train” was the first song I mastered. At the time, Alex Sklonick also had a column in the magazine “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. In one of those columns, Skolnick also talked about modes and how “Crazy Train” is in the key of A Major and how it switches between the minor and major modes throughout the song. At the time it was a lot to take in however once you get it, you get it. Plus having a song like “Crazy Train” to refer too, who wouldn’t get it.

That one song has all the tools that every guitarist should possess.

And then when you start to go through all of the other songs, you see/hear all of the above tools re-used, which re-enforces all the techniques. Some songs had finger picking and arpeggios. Randy Rhoads was the definition of completeness.

By creating great music, he also taught us how to be better guitar players. Everything made sense. You can take a teacher and make them a rock star, however you can never stop the rock star from being a teacher and that is exactly what Randy Rhoads was. A teacher.

His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.

POPCORN TIME

Remember “Popcorn Time”. It had no registrations to use it and there was no restrictions on content. It looked like Netflix and it was free. The user just presses play. It’s easy to use and its design was elegant.

And the entertainment industries killed it instead of employing the people behind it.

“Popcorn Time” was designed by programmers in Argentina, where the movie “There’s Something About Mary” was still classed as a new release by the movie studios in that country.

The development team created an innovative piece of software to meet a service problem for their country because the content industries failed to make content available.

We all know that piracy is wrong, however it opens up the conversation to the larger issue.

For example;

THE BAD – It made the RIAA spend millions suing music customers.

THE GOOD – But, Apple saw a market here and began to turn those Napster digital natives into iTunes buyers by making it easy to grab the latest music, anywhere, at any time. Same deal with Spotify, who put money into a market that didn’t exist before.

ARTIST

Asking Alexandria

They are a hard rock band. When are they going to realise that and drop the stupid screamo vocals.

RECORD LABEL CONTRACTS and ROYALTIES

Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell had this to say about Roadrunner Records and its founder Cees Wessels;

“I still get royalties. It comes in, but it depends how much we work, how much we tour. If we tour a lot I see better royalties, if we don’t then I don’t.

I have no idea when we’ll get the rights back [to our catalog], because that Roadrunner contract is bullshit.

I literally signed a deal with a Dutch devil. But when you’re young, you don’t care. You’re 23 years-old and ‘we’re going to give you an advance to make your first record, we’re gonna put you on tour, sell your shirts in all the stores. You are gonna to be famous!’’Alright, make it happen!’

Every single label failed their artists by not innovating. The analog dollars vs digital cents mess they got themselves in, is purely of their own doing.

The Macklemore Lessons

Be in it for the long haul. The career of Macklemore has been a long one (21 years and counting). There’s no such thing as an overnight success.

Michael Poulsen from Volbeat started his first death metal band Dominus in 1991. During that time, Dominus released an album called Vol.Beat. When the band broke up in 2001, Volbeat was born. It wasn’t until 2005 that the first Volbeat album dropped. It wasn’t until Metallica picked em up as openers in 2009, that their US career kicked into overdrive. 30 years in the business. That is a lifer.

WORK ETHICS

Work ethics of the current music business.

Check out the list of releases from George Lynch between 2008 and 2014.

2008 – George Lynch – Scorpion Tales
2008 – Souls Of We – Let The Truth Be Known
2009 – Lynch Mob – Smoke And Mirrors
2010 – Raven Quinn – self-titled debut
2010 – George Lynch – Orchestral Mayhem
2011 – George Lynch – Kill All Control
2012 – T & N – Slave To The Empire
2012 – George Lynch – Legacy (EP)
2012 – Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Sessions (EP)
2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged – Live From Sugar Hill Studios
2014 – KXM – KXM

Apart from the high volume output, Lynch is also immersing himself with different band set ups. Different dynamics. Sort of like the seventies musicians who just got together over a weekend and made an album.

The modern internet rule is here today, gone tomorrow. In order to survive, you need to show up and create. The music business is not in trouble. Only dumb labels and artists are.

But all things evolve, and if you are not open to change, you will be forgetten.

Remember John Sykes.

RANTS ON COPYRIGHT, RRHOF and THE WALKING DEAD

BUSINESS MODEL PROTECTIONISM

It’s pretty pathetic how the entertainment industries need to get governments to pass laws every time there is a shift in technology. Back in the Eighties, the boss of the MPAA Jack Valenti proclaimed at a Senate Congressional Hearing that the VCR’s are to the American film producer like the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.

Fast forward a decade later and VHS sales of movies proved to be a very large income source for the movie industry.

So when it comes to negotiating new laws for copyright, it is these large and cashed up business entities that are lobbying politicians.

Copyright is too distorted and removed from what it was intended to do. It needs a rethink and a massive re-write. The kids of today, the ones that pirate, will one day step up into government and then, change will happen.

THE WALKING DEAD

It’s passed its prime.

The last half of Season 4 was by far the worst. It is a yawn fest of massive proportions.

The main show runners in Frank Darabont and Glen Mazzara got booted for various reasons, with TWD comic creator Robert Kirkman being behind the Mazzara booting.

One thing I can say is that comic book writers should stick to comic books. They are not TV show runners.

ROCK’N’ROLL HALL OF FAME

They call themselves “leaders in the music industry” that joined together to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

Joe Elliott from Def Leppard called it as it is. Elliot called them a “board room of faceless tuxedo-wearing morons” who decide such things based on their own determination of what’s cool.

M SHADOWS

One of the big comparisons that people make is the status of sales right now vs sales more than 30 years ago. And everyone today, especially artists or media personalities, always say that the Eighties was so much better. It is a bold claim to make, especially when the Eighties is known as the era that ripped off artists.

Let’s look at Metallica and Megadeth compared to Avenged Sevenfold.

FIRST ALBUM

Metallica released “Kill Em All” in 1983. It wasn’t until 1989 (yep six years later) that the album was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. After six months, Metallica was back in the studio recording the follow up.

But, on the back of the Black album juggernaut, by 1999, “Kill Em All” was certified 3 x Platinum, Still it happened, 16 years after it’s release.

Megadeth released “Killing Is My Business (And Business Is Good) in 1985 and to this day it hasn’t been certified at all.

Avenged Sevenfold released “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” in 2001 and like Megadeth’s debut, it still hasn’t passed the 500,000 Gold barrier.

Compare the first album release of each band and all of them failed to achieve GOLD status within the first five years of release.

But…. Bands had way more sales in the Eighties than today…. The answer is NO, they didn’t.

THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS

Jared Leto was born to be in the arts.

I watched “Thirty Seconds To Mars” live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 29 March 2014. Leto had the crowd in his hands from the word go and he manipulated the audience to jump, chant and sing with him throughout the whole performance.

They are a success story.

Sales on the board. Streams. YouTube plays. Box office score. Merchandise.

THE UGLY TRUTH

Record Labels want to sell a lot right now, while an artist is looking to have a career and live forever in the hearts and minds of music lovers.

Hit songs/albums are not made by marketing or an artist telling the world it is their best work. They are made by cultures of people who connect with the song and then share their love of that music with others.

Cheap mediocre goods might sell millions in retail businesses however mediocre doesn’t cut it in music. Hence the death of the album format.

Record Labels are all about the wealth, the Forbes Rich List and flying private. Artists are about the essence and then when they see the talentless executives living it up on the backs of their creations, artists change and become obsessed with the same trappings that consume the Record Label hierarchy.

Record Labels think of how they can monetise the album/song. That is why they strike corporate deals with other entities for crappy pre-release streams and so forth. Artists just want their fans to hear the new music and hit the road to promote it.

Record Labels cease to be when they run out of money, however an artist never stops creating.

Record Labels judge success by how much money the artist made for them. The artist judges their success by how many people their music touched and what impact it had on society and culture.

If a record label exec screws up they could lose their job, however there is a good chance that they will find another high-powered well-paying job. If an artist messes up, there is a good chance they could lose their career.

GUN

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.

In the beginning GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands, however GUN had way more substance. Way more character.

Coming from Scotland, they didn’t conform to the LA Sunset Strip scene. The songs didn’t focus on “Cherry Pies” or “Slipped Her The Big One”. They didn’t focus on spelling Rock, ROK. They didn’t have to compete with any band in the scene for the fastest licks and biggest hair.

Instead they focused on their own brand of rock’n’roll. And their lyrical themes didn’t deal with the usual rubbish that the hard rock bands started to serve towards the end of the decade.

Check out my review on “Taking On The World”.

GENE THE WEREWOLF

Check out my review of the “Rock N Roll Animal” album.

I knew nothing about them. Back in the Eighties, we got the press releases, the interviews, the promo spots and the musicians appeared larger than life. Today, we get the music first and then we go back to investigate who the hell created it.

If you are into hard rock, then this is the album for you.

The whole album is an example of progress being derivative.

Taking your influences, blending them and the output is your style and your sound. That is what music is all about. The whole album reminds me of “The Night Flight Orchestra” project. It is a fun album to listen to.

Of course they are on Frontiers Records, who seem to be on a roll surrounding themselves with talent. At first hearing, I thought the band came from Sweden as most of the hard rock bands I have been getting into are from there. However, that is not the case. They are from Pittsburgh, USA.

It is the usual lifer story.

All of the members had done time in previous semi-successful bands from the Pittsburgh area. Some of those bands toured nationally and internationally. There is a lot of history there. A super group from Pittsburgh area bands. In a way like “Night Ranger”. A super group of Californian bands.

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

Copyright Stupid 101

Copyright is a constant in the news cycle.

Investment funds are purchasing licenses to music catalogues that make money. Streaming services have shown how much money they pay to the copyright holders which in most cases are the labels, the publishers, the few artists who own their rights and now, Hedge Funds and Investment Funds.

The three major music labels jointly brought in over $25 billion in revenue last year, with $12.5 billion coming from streaming recorded revenue alone. Spotify payments represent around a third of that streaming total. Major label profits combined in 2021 exceeded $4 billion.

Furthermore, social media services like Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat and the like also pay a lot of license fees to the copyright holders. Even games like Roblox had to settle a $200 million suit around licensing fees to the publishers and labels. There is a lot of money going out to copyright holders which isn’t filtering to the actual people who make those copyrights valuable.

The artists.

Then again, a lot of those people are dead and their copyrights are unfortunately held by corporations (instead of being in the Public Domain) who might pay a few million or a few thousands to the artists heirs. Sort of like a lifetime pension that reverts to the spouse and then to the kids.

From a Metal point of view, investment fund, Tempo Music acquired a majority stake in some of Korn’s recordings and compositions. And another investment fund called, Round Hill Music did a deal with members of Supertramp.

David Bowie’s catalogue went for a lot and he’s not even alive to spend it. So did Bob Dylan to Universal Music Group, who is figuring out how to spend his $400 million at his age. And Neil Young sold 50% of his stake in his song to Hipgnosis for $150 million.

81 year old Tina Turner also sold her rights to BMG (a music publishing company) along with her image and likeness. “Chanisaw Charlie” from WASP comes to mind and how “Charlie” the label boss in the song, whores the image of the dead rock stars.

And the cases for plagiarism in music just keep coming.

You see, I find it hard to believe that an artist is so original and free from influence. And yes, some songs might sound the same or have similarities. Hell the whole Southern Rock genre sounded the same in the 70’s and so did the Blues Rock genre from the same period. They actually both sounded the same.

Listen to progressive music like Yes, ELP and Rush and you would start to hear a lot of similarities. It’s just how creativity works. Nothing is created in a vacuum, free from influences. Creativity is a sum of our influences and experiences.

Plagiarism cases don’t happen much in metal and hard rock circles these days, but if any of the artists have a hit song right now, well, where there is a hit, there is a writ.

Drake and Chris Brown are in court over copyright infringement. Kate Perry just won her suit. Bad Bunny is also sued for infringement. Ed Sheeran has a special team that constantly fights plagiarism court battles.

And Taylor Swift is almost done re-recording her old songs to get away from a restrictive contract in which her copyrights are owned by her original label and for some reason they had the right to sell those rights on to anyone, which they already did.

In other words, they used Taylor Swift as a bargaining chip, sold the copyrights they held in her music and took the money with no compensation to the artist.

Brilliant.

“Frontiers” from Italy is constantly putting money out there to get famous artists from the 80’s and 90’s to record new music for them and to re-record their old songs for the label.

From looking at the metal and rock genre, “Frontiers” have the highest releases from any label that I am aware off. I guess the Frontiers execs are aware that having assets like “copyright” under their control, makes good business sense.

Those copyright assets will never go down to zero. Because streaming pays those who hold the copyrights and the money is in holding the copyrights for the life of the artist plus 70 years after death. In some countries its 90 years after death.

In other words, music is a better investment than anything else. If you buy physical property, you would need to maintain it, renovate it and keep paying bills for utilities, however music just scales. And artists will keep on creating.

And get ready for the battle between AI created deepfake songs of dead pop stars and copyright.

AI can create new songs from Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or Michael Jackson. A company called OpenAI can generate new pop songs in the style of these artists. It’s not studio quality, more like garage demo’s as the AI creates derivative versions of music they’ve already released and new lyrics based on the songs the artist previously released.

But the biggest issue always facing artists is payments.

The streaming services have secret licensing agreements with the music publishers and the labels. These black box deals are worth a lot to the labels and publishers.

But the music publishers and labels are in these positions of negotiating power because of the works that the artists have created, however those licensing monies do not filter down to the artists.

Then again, these kinds of black box creative accounting from the labels is engrained in their system. It’s nothing new.

But I’ll sign my contract baby, and I won’t you people to know
Every penny that I make, I’ve got to see where my money goes

From “Working For MCA” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

But artists don’t see where their money goes and they haven’t seen for a very long time.

And when the labels had the power and control of the distribution chain before Napster, they could sign artists to the most crappiest deals ever. Which they still enforce today.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – March 7 to March 13

4 Years Ago (2018)

FORTNITE

While everyone was complaining about freemium and the monies streaming services pay to the rights holders of music, Fortnite “Battle Royale” came out for free and conquered all. It’s already at everyone’s price point. It can’t get any lower so it costs nothing to try it.

But Fortnite was originally a game for purchase. Within six months of its release in 2017, it had over a million users. But then in September 2017, Epic (the game developer behind it) did something different. They released a free-to-play “Battle Royale” mode. Within 2 weeks of its release, it had over 10 million players.

For Epic, the “Battle Royale” mode is a major hit. It’s like Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA” style of a hit. And it’s still going strong because the best marketing tool is word of mouth.

Fortnite spread because the people who played it, enjoyed it and then they asked their friends to create an account and play with them online.

And their friends said “why not”, it’s free, let’s give it a try. The game kept growing in popularity because Epic constantly upgraded it on a regular basis.

In other words, the fans of the game are not waiting 2 years for a new upgrade. Like how fans of artists wait years for new products.

I come from the era of the album, but all I want is frequent content. It’s the reason why the bootleg industry was huge in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, my record collection has hundreds of bootlegs, from live recordings, to demo recordings, to sound check jams and what not. It was the need to fill the gap between albums.

And like all hit’s there is a writ.

8 Years Ago (2014)

MICK MARS and GENERATION SWINE

Mick Mars said that he almost left Motley Crue during the “Generation Swine” sessions and that still to this day, he hates the album.

It was meant to be called “Personality #9” with John Corabi on vocals. But the label was still reeling from the $3 million loss on their accounts from the 1994 self-titled album so they demanded that Vince Neil come back in.

The Crue started working on the follow-up in 1995. Nikki Sixx wanted to road test the songs before they recorded them, in small venues and using different band names, like the Four Skins. It was a back to the seventies approach, when bands used to debut new songs on the road before committing them to tape in a studio. That is why so many songs from the seventies worked well in a live setting. Deep Purple played “Highway Star” for at least 12 months before recording it. Same as Ted Nugent and “Stranglehold”. The list goes on, however today’s rock star doesn’t need to pay their dues on the live circuit.

But they road tested nothing.

The biggest Achilles heel to “Generation Swine” is the lack of the hit song. Like “Kick Start My Heart”.

It wasn’t a hit on the Billboard Charts, however in rock circles it was a song that all the rock heads and the metal heads could latch onto. Even the self-titled album, didn’t have that kind of song that people could latch on to.

MUSIC BUSINESS RULES FOUND IN SONGS

Here is a summary, however each rule is expanded in the blogpost.

On Motley Crue’s 2008 song ‘Welcome To The Machine’ they provided a few general rules about the recording business and the machine that is the music business.

Rule Number 1: “Sign on the x to sell your soul”.

Rule Number 2: “It’s so automatic, Hocking broken plastic, Royalties you’ll never know”.

Rule Number 3: “Give your ass like a whore, Once you take a hit, You need more more more”.

Rule Number 4: “Welcome to the machine, Once it sucks you in you’ll never leave, Grind you up spit you out, After all you’re just a piece of meat”.

Rule Number 5: “Sell out to the rats, Make em rich make em fat”.

On Motley Crue’s 1999 song ‘Fake’ they seem to provide a few more general rules about the recording business.

Rule Number 6 (supporting Rule Number 1 and 2): “Sold my soul while you sold records, I have been your slave forever.”

Rule Number 7 (supporting Rule Number 5): “What are you fat cats doing anyway?, Take our money and flush it down the drain.”

Ugly Kid Joe asked “Mr Recordman” if he knew who they were or if he gave a damn about them or if he was purely there for the dough. Based on their career trajectory, the answer was obvious. Mr Recordman didn’t give a damn about them once they stopped being “commercially viable”

Rule Number 8 – Mr Recordman doesn’t know who you are. Look at the band “Winger”. When Reb Beach called the label after the Beavis and Butthead episode hit TV screens, the label claimed they never knew a band called Winger.

Rule Number 9 comes from Disturbed and their song “Sons Of Plunder”.

Rule Number 9: “You say you’ve found yourself a new sound, one hundred more all have the same sound”

The song Chainsaw Charlie from WASP is littered with music business rules. The first three lines, “Will you gamble your life?, Sign right here on the dotted line, It’s the one you’ve waited for all of your life” fall into Rule Number 1. Then the lyrics of “And tomorrow when I’m gone, Will they whore my image on?” brings us to Rule Number 10.

Rule Number 10: The record label will forever whore your image on after they have dropped you or after you have departed this Earth. There is a lot of money to be made in death.

Rule Number 11: “We’ll sell your flesh by the pound you’ll go, A whore of wrath just like me, We’ll sell ya wholesale, we’ll sell your soul, Strap on your six string and feed our machine.”

Rule Number 12: “Welcome to the morgue boy, Where the music comes to die” is about songs written by a committee. It’s soulless, however it sells.

Rule Number 13: “Ah, trust me boy, I won’t steer you wrong, If you trust me son, You won’t last very long”

Rule Number 14: “The new morgue’s our factory, to grease our lies, Our machine is hungry, it needs your life” is the definition of the recording business.

Rule Number 15: “I’m the tin man, I’ve never had a heart, I’m the tin man, But I’ll make you a star” is the Record Label CEO. All promises and that tin heart doesn’t care if those promises are broken.

Savatage is another band that covers the music business in a bit of detail. Rules 16 to 18 are from the song “Jesus Saves”.

Rule Number 16: “You know Jesus he started changing, Things got really strange, He saw his tee shirts everywhere, He started missing shows, The band came down to blows, But Jesus he just didn’t care.”

Yep, it’s a tough gig keeping a band together, especially when a band member becomes the idol that the fans latch onto.

Rule Number 17: “Things got out of hand, And so he quit the band, Still the critics they would rave”

Rule Number 18: “hear Him cut through the night, On those late night radio waves”

Eventually, we get old and we become “classic rock”. There is no way around out. Embrace it and play to your core audiences.

The final two rules are from the song “When The Crowds Are Gone” from Savatage.

Rule Number 19: “I don’t know where the years have gone, Memories can only last so long, Like faded photographs, forgotten songs”

Rule Number 20: “The story’s over, When the crowds are gone.”

Pretty self-explanatory.

ADRENALINE MOB

Adrenaline Mob are seasoned professionals collaborating on a hard rock project. For some reason they remind me of Night Ranger.

The debut album “Omerta” was number 4 on my list for releases in 2012. I hold the vocal talents of Russell Allen and the guitar talents of Mike Orlando in high regard. Add to those talents the powerhouse drumming from Mike Portnoy on the first album (and the two EPs) and of course the mighty AJ Pero appears on the second album. As a Twisted Sister fan, this is a great thing to see happen. And finally John Moyer from Disturbed is providing the bottom end.

Listening to “Men Of Honour”, it comes across as a band having fun. Check it out and while you’re at it, listen to Mike Orlando.

I don’t know what to call Orlando’s guitar style. One term I have for it is “Technical Chaos”. He has the chops, but he plays with an improvised abandonment that sounds so precise and I like that.

PONO MUSIC

If you remember back to 1998, the recording business became famous for saying that no one will be interested in downloading a crappy mp3. Guess they didn’t know how many billions those no ones came too.

Pono came out at a time when fans of music had decided that YouTube and Spotify are better alternatives.

And that is what Pono Music fails to understand. The fans of music are in control. If they want to pay, they will. If they want to go to a show, they will. If they want to download for free, they will.

But Neil Young’s PR said that mp3s are crap.

So in 2017 it was discontinued.

And that’s another wrap.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – February 28 to March 6

2018 (4 Years Ago)

IDEAS

All ideas or If you use the words “intellectual property” for the Copyright maximalists, have an influence from something that came before. We learn to write music by learning the music from others. We learn to write stories by reading the stories of others.

It’s probably why people shouldn’t get all emotional over ideas/intellectual property.

People like familiarity.

Derek Thompson in his book “Hit Makers” mentioned how people are drawn to music that might be new, yet familiar enough to be recognizable.

In other words, that new song we all like has enough variation in it to make it not a carbon copy of its source influence.

And people still like to claim that their song is so original and free from influence and when people have that fixed mindset, well, the courts are busy and the lawyers are making money.

Check out my recent Google alerts on the word Copyright.

A lot of delusional people who believe that their works are so original and free from influence.

Guess what.

All of our ideas have already been stolen. Because there is no such thing as the genius loner. It’s a myth. We are all social people and our creativity is fuelled by our social environments. Every single day, we take in our surroundings, we set meaningful and important goals and we are always thinking of solutions to problems.

A neuroscientist and a psychologist broke down creativity into three main buckets;

  • Bending means you take a previous work and re-model it in some way. “The Walking Dead” and “Night Of The Living Dead”.
  • Blending means merging previous works together so you have multiple melodies and re-cutting it to suit what you want to write. Jimmy Page was great at doing this with Led Zeppelin’s music. Metallica did that with “Sanitarium”.
  • Breaking is taking a short and important musical idea otherwise known as a musical fragment and building on it. Think of my post on “One Riff To Rule Them All”, which covers the A pedal point riff used in songs like “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

The differences between humans and computers is how we store information and how we retrieve information. For the computer, the riff stored on the hard drive will sound exactly the same three years later, however that same riff stored in our head would be different.

Why.

Our brain breaks it down, blends it and bends it with other information. This massive mash up of ideas in our brains is our creativity. And when we play that riff three years later, it has a different feel, different phrasing or something else. Some of them stink and sometimes we create something that breaks through into society.

LIVE ALBUMS

A funny thing started to happen when streaming became the main source of income for the labels.

Live albums started to come out.

You see, streaming services like new content. And since bands like to take their time or need to make time to record new original music, they filled the void for new content by releasing live albums.

Suddenly getting new product out yearly instead of every two to three years became the norm. But it still didn’t solve the problem of people not buying albums.

Whitesnake is a band which keeps firing out live recordings year after year. “Made In Japan”, “Made In England”, “Bad To The Bone 84”, “Castle Donnington 90”, “Live In The Heart Of The City” and “The Purple Tour” have been released as stand-alone albums over the last 10 years.

And David Coverdale knows the value of his super fans.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

AVENGED SEVENFOLD and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH Live

I attended the Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold gig on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 at the Big Top in Luna Park. It was my first time seeing them both live so I didn’t know what to expect.

Read the review here.

And if you get a chance to watch em live, do it.

INNOVATION FROM LABELS (Cough, Cough)

Each week, the sites that enable copyrights to be infringed innovate at a rapid rate to stay ahead of the curve. They are competing against each other for people to use them to illegally access entertainment.

Read the post to see how these sites innovate. Instead of shutting em down, the labels and movie studios should be employing these people.

TRENDS IN ROCK AND METAL

I played Nostradamus and looked into my crystal glass full of whiskey in the jar-o to make some predictions.

ON A DOWN SLOPE

DAUGHTRY

The band leader, Chris Daughtry messed up big time chasing the crowds of “Train” and “Imagine Dragons”.

He is a hard rocker from day dot and rock gave him his legion of fans. For the ill-fated and recent “Baptized” album, he committed career suicide, throwing his lot with the hit songwriters.

The songs are good, however they are not Daughtry songs. It would have been better for him as an artist to have given those songs to other artists that are more electronic pop rock minded. That way he would have been the songwriter, the way Bryan Adams gave songs away to other artists that wouldn’t suit the Adams sound back in the 80’s.

HYPE

We can see through the hype and we hate it.

So much hype was around Dream Theater’s self titled release and it disappeared from the conversation within six weeks.

Megadeth’s brand new album “Super Collider” was being outsold by the Black album.

THE ALBUM FORMAT

Making money is hard. Just because a band releases an album, it doesn’t mean that people would pay for it or would want it.

And when we are inundated with product we tune out, however, it turns out we have time for Metallica’s “Black” album. At this point in time it was still moving two to three thousand units a week and it was expected to pass 16 million by May 2014.

GOING GOING – ALMOST GONE

CLASSIC ROCK

Classic Rock bands have another 10 years left.

ON THE UPSTORYTELLING

That is why TV shows are the most downloaded torrents of all time. Tell a good story and the world will be at your door step.

THE LABELS WANT TO BE THE GOOD GUYS

Read the financial reports on Universal Music Group.

Spotify has propped up their bottom line and that bottom line will get better each year for Universal. And they keep spreading the bull shit that they are out there fighting for the artists. The good guys.

Frontiers has become a major player in the classic rock, melodic rock and hard rock scene. They kept the flag of melodic rock flying high since 1996, when all of the other major labels abandoned the style and put their monies into grunge first and then industrial rock/metal and then nu-metal.

And their business model is all about locking up copyrights for a long time.

They have realised it’s not about sales anymore, and while steaming numbers and revenue are still tiny, in the long term the labels will be able to reap the benefits.

Why?

Because streaming is a regular recurring revenue business. And these Copyrights are valuable?

Let’s put it this way, if Metallica is on Spotify, then the rates paid back to the COPYRIGHT HOLDERS (which in this case is Metallica as they do own their Copyright) must be good, because Lars Ulrich and their manager Cliff Burnstein would not allow Metallica to enter a business arrangement that is not in their favour.

And back in 2014, Tool or AC/DC or Def Leppard were not on Spotify. They all are now.

The real truth is that there is much more music out there than there has ever been, so the issues that are present to artist and labels is how do they get people’s attention directed towards that new music.

Personally, I don’t even know anybody who pirates music anymore. There is no reason to pirate and legitimate customers/fans would always turn to legal alternatives.

Add “Recording Sales Revenue” plus “Streaming Revenue” plus “YouTube Ad Revenue” plus “Ticket Revenue” plus “Merchandise Revenue” plus “Corporate Deals Revenue” plus “Sponsorship Revenue” plus “Publishing Revenue” plus “Licensing Revenue” and then decide if you are winning or not.

Again, if you are not seeing a lot of revenue, then you need to be speaking to your label, because if you have numbers in all of the above Revenue streams then something is a-miss contractually.

SPOTIFY

You know the drill. A new technology comes out and eventually it will start to get some traction. Then the word will spread about and more people would flock to it. It’s new, it’s cool, it’s hip and its innovative. Then when it is at its peak, the people who testified for the new tech, will abandon it, looking for something new and better.

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter are three such platforms that came, peaked and right now are suffering an identity crisis.

MySpace is finished.

Facebook got traction because it connected people in a way that MySpace couldn’t. Now, all of these connected people need to deal with the marketing of products, advertisers, like requests, fake friend requests and spam.

Twitter is well, Twitter. With so many people tweeting or having their tweets connected to their Facebook Posts or their blog posts, everything is getting lost in the mix. When a big news item hits, Twitter is the platform to go to, because people who are directly involved in these big events are the ones that are tweeting.

Spotify has been around for a while now and in the last 3 years it set up base in a number of large music markets like Australia, Canada and of course the US.

The people tried it. Some have stuck to it. Some have abandoned it. The ones that speak out against it have never used it.

Spotify however needs a game changer. Sort of like how the move to APPS changed the iTunes store. And it’s all about the FREE. Fans of music showed the world that they want FREE music to listen to. And don’t say that FREE doesn’t work. How the hell did Free To Air TV exist and grow over the last 60 years.

I am all over the shop when it comes to music. I still purchase product from the bands I like and I stream as well.

And the funny thing is that I don’t use iTunes anymore.

Who would have thought that day would have come?

And that is what Spotify needs to think about it. Once the newness has rubbed off, what’s next. Consolidation. How can you consolidate when the modern paradigm is DISRUPTION?

P.S.

I wrote this in 2014 and since then Spotify has innovated a lot to keep people interested. Putting their lot in with PODCASTS and it looks like they will be moving to Audio Books as well based on a recent survey I undertook with them.

But their algorithms have turned to shite.

COPYRIGHT

It’s all about stopping copyright infringement. It’s all about shaking down internet users. It’s all about a ridiculous and “out of touch with reality” penalty system. For example, if a user downloads one song, the RIAA have argued that the copyright holders are out of pocket between $20 to $10,000. Seriously.

When discussions are had on Copyright, it’s all about the enforcement. It’s all about creating a monopoly. The ones that sit on the innovation fence are shouted down to from the ones that control/hold the Copyrights.

The thing is, people have been “copyright infringers” since day dot. Anyone that remembers cassette tapes, will tell you how they used to copy songs from recordings onto a cassette tape. James Hetfield used to copy Lars Ulrich’s record collection onto cassettes.

We used to copy songs from the radio onto cassettes. We used to copy movies from TV onto VHS cassettes. Then we got even more creative and hooked up two videos at once to make copies of the latest releases. With the advent of the CD and blank discs, we started making mixed CD’s. When Napster exploded, people flocked to it. Because we had been copyright infringing forever.

It is easy to lay the blame on others. However it is the record labels that need to take responsibility. They still don’t get it. People want FREE music. Spotify provides a service that is free, however it is still seen as restrictive and people still go to other torrent sites to download content. YouTube also provides a service that is free.

And then the recording industry claims that these sites make so much money from running ads on their site. If that is the case, then why isn’t the recording industry offering the same service and making that same money.

They don’t want to, because that would mean they would have spent dollars in Information Technology. And they don’t want to do that.

And most artists have never made a living from royalties. The record labels always have.

Well I hope you enjoyed another wrap up of Destroyerofharmony history?

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Algorithms

Spotify has been in the news a lot lately and when it hits the news its always for the wrong reasons.

I can tell ya that no one in Australia gives a crap about Joe Rogan and the Neil Young/Joni Mitchell drama. The majority of the country here doesn’t even know or care who Rogan is. And for Young pulling his catalogue of songs from the service, he’s cut his income by 60%. Maybe it’s a North American issue as Young’s reach in Australia is minimal unless he had a crossover song which became mainstream like “Rockin In The Free World” and “Hey Hey My My”.

Young can take this stance as well. You see, he hasn’t sold his rights to investment firms and hedge funds, so he’s entitled to do what he wants with his music, whereas the artists who sold their rights and took the money are silent. Because they have to be. There are too many players on their rights.

And the news cycle is fast. What was trending last week, disappears after 24 hours and I’m probably the only one writing about this a week later.

But this post is not about Neil Young or Rogan. It’s about Spotify.

It’s about the algorithms from digital services.

We’ve come a long way since Apple release the iPod in October 2001.

While the algorithms might have been cool at the start, all they do now is recommend more of the same.

It looks like the coders behind em, have gone to various lists and Wikipedia pages across the internet and used those lists to create their algorithms.

For example, Google, “Great Guitar Solos” and multiple lists come up. The Spotify coder would then take that list and use the artists in the lists for a playlist. In other words, its basic dumb coding.

When I want to hear Guitar Solos like “Comfortably Numb” from Pink Floyd and Dave Gilmour, I want an algorithm that uses the emotion of that solo to find me other emotive solos like it from artists I don’t know and know.

Like “Try Me” from UFO and the great Michael Schenker. Or “Angel Of Mercy” from Black Label Society and Zakk Wylde as the guitarist. And it would be cool if its evolving, bringing in something different, like the “Live at Budokan” version of “Hollow Tears” from Dream Theater and John Petrucci. And the next time I go to it, the list is different, because it’s trying to recommend something cool and new and different.

But the algorithms just look at my past listening habits and mirror those habits back at me. And I’m not finding anything cool from em.

I’ve gone back to the old school way of getting recommendations from friends and other bloggers, reading reviews and making my own decisions on whether to check something out or from artists themselves who mention an act or band that’s blown em away.

And artificial intelligence can automate a lot of this, but it can’t automate the cool and social aspect of being blown away by something sounding so good, because each listeners experience and connection to the music is different. While music is a personal experience, its social in nature. We want to share our experiences, talk about it, watch it live with others, dance to it and put our views out there.

Lift your game Spotify.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2021 – Spotify Wrapped Summary

I spent 40,275 minutes on Spotify listening to music.

That equals about 671 hours and close to 2 hours of music on the service alone.

And I have a lot of vinyl which also gets listened to, YouTube also gets some of my attention and various CD’s and DVD’s of artists.

In other words, I’m madly in anger with music.

I listened to 86 different genres. But I’ll take that with a big asterisk as Spotify needs to break down musical styles in many little categories so their algorithms can get down low.

And the top 5 are listed as follows:

It’s a pretty common theme that the music is either Rock or Metal. And who comes up with a genre called “Album Rock”.

What does “Album Rock” even mean?

But in the space of 365 days, I listened to 819 different artists.

And I remember in 1988, I purchased 8 albums and copied about 20 other albums from friends onto cassettes. From those albums, some were from the same artists. For example, I purchased “And Justice For All” and dubbed “Kill Em All” from Metallica.

Even if it was 28 different artists, that number is nothing compared to 819. And any new artist trying to make a dent to get peoples attention is up against the history of music on streaming services plus all the new releases that come out each day.

From a podcast point of view, “No Fucking Regrets” from Robb Flynn was my main one.

It’s cool to see a musician doing different things. Apart from the podcast, Robb also does “Electric Hour Fridays” on YouTube/Facebook in which he drinks beer and plays through songs from Machine Head’s catalog along with cover songs. And he does his “General Journal” posts.

My top five artists vis Spotify are Free Spirits Rising, Coheed And Cambria, Daughtry, Disturbed and Dokken.

And that’s the summary of my Spotify Wrapped.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – October 32 to November 6

4 Years Ago (2017)

NIKKI SIXX

Love him or hate him, one thing is certain. Nikki Sixx is a lifer in the music business and once he and Allen Kovacs got back control of Motley’s catalogue in the late 90’s, they went about reinventing his image and persona, until he became bigger than the rest of the Crue guys combined.

Crue was my favourite band in the 80’s. Their attitude, their pop choruses, the street life lyrics and their simple but effective riffage all connected with me.

Crue showed the world that you don’t have to be the most gifted musicians to write effective songs that connect.

The 10th year anniversary edition of “The Heroin Diaries” came out during this period.

And you know what; it still is a pretty good album.

And 10 years is a long time in music. You could be here and then you could be gone.

Think about it.

In 1989, the Crue released “Dr Feelgood”. Their first ever Number 1 album. At the peak of their powers. By 1999, the Crue was creatively non-existent. By 2009, they had released a new album and had a massive tour. By 2019, they had retired from touring and then announced a comeback, which was derailed by coronavirus.

THE EARLY 90’s

By the early 90’s, the remnants of the dominant 80’s rock movement was looking for ways to fit in and get back people’s attention.

A lot of the acts signed towards the late 80’s had already splintered. Some got dropped and tried to get a new deal or they just left the recording business for good. And you had a lot of acts from the early 80’s, who had platinum success and somehow were still together and looking for ways to survive in the 90’s. You also had the 70’s acts that re-invented themselves in the 80’s thanks to MTV and were looking to keep the momentum going well into the 90’s. Aerosmith and Kiss come to mind here.

Meanwhile, the recording business was in a race to the bottom with a winner take all mentality. Label after label started to get sucked into the vacuum of the larger label.

Changes in personnel happened so fast that once an artist was signed, a few weeks or few months later, the people who signed the artist would no longer be working at the label and the interest to develop and promote the artist disappeared.

So the artist was in limbo.

But the label is not letting the artist go, just in case the artist makes it with another label. It’s one of the big no-no’s in the recording industry.

A record company in the 80’s would get you on radio, music television, magazines and they would push the album hard enough to achieve platinum sales.

If it didn’t “sell”, they would put you in the studio again, get you further in debt and if you failed again, you would be dropped.

A record label in the 90’s would sign you and then drop you before you even released anything or had a chance to get your message across.

And in today’s world it’s getting even harder to get your message across. It’s weird, because everyone has smartphones and everyone is connected however this great digital era also means that the users are the product.

WHITESNAKE 30th ANNIVERSARY

I was listening to the 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the 1987 self-titled album from Whitesnake.

Coverdale might have racked up a $3 million plus debt recording it, but Geffen Records recouped their investment and Coverdale got to make some coin himself.

To show the obscene amount of money thrown at artists, Sykes was hired in 84 with a million dollar sign-on fee, which would turn out to be another amount Coverdale had to pay back.

Because, labels recoup everything before they start to pay anything out.

And the “Evolution” demos are gold.

Pure Gold.

The way Coverdale and his team edited them together to demonstrate the evolution of each song is something that no other artist had done at that point in time.

It shows how a good chorus or a vocal melody evolves into a song. In some of the demo’s Coverdale is lost for words, but he’s hearing the melody and he repeats the same lines so he has something on tape to go back to later on.
Sykes on those jam versions; solo’s and riffs like hell. He’s unrefined and spontaneous and just trying stuff out, seeing what sticks and connects. The beauty of demos are the mistakes. There are no maps or directions but the artist sort of knows where they are going.

For example, in “Still Of The Night”. In the first minute, Coverdale is drumming on his legs, singling and adlibbing while Sykes is playing a riff over the normal F#5 chord. Then the phone rings and the next bit you hear from the minute mark to 1.45, I believe is from another song writing session. Then it evolves into a band rehearsal. And it just keeps on evolving from there. The evolution.

It’s best to invest time and check em out yourself. 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MILLION AND SEVEN MILLION

While it’s great to see David Coverdale celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the 1987 self-titled Whitesnake album.

Dokken and the work Lynch did with the band is another favourite of mine during this period and Lynch’s guitar work is a huge influence on my guitar playing and style.

But “Back for the Attack” released in 1987 gets no anniversary treatment. It gets no attention and is rarely part of the conversation.

But back in 1987 it was everywhere. The momentum started with “Dream Warriors” which was released to promote “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”.

For nine months, Elektra Records flogged “Dream Warriors” to death over a staggered windowed release.

Then the album dropped and people purchased.

So what does 1 million sales in 1987 mean in 2021.

Using Spotify stats, 1 million sales in 1987 leads to 7.1 million streams of “Dream Warriors” in 2021.

Compared to how big Dokken was in the 80’s, these numbers are anaemic.

“Is This Love” has 181 plus million streams, while the “Here I Go Again” 1987 version has 204.8 million streams.

The “Here I Go Again” version from “Saints and Sinners” has 110 plus million streams and when you add the 68 million streams from the 1987 radio edit version, “Here I Go Again” combined 382 million streams.

The difference between a million seller and a seven million seller.

8 Years Ago (2013)

GUITAR WORLD

Once upon a time getting on the cover of a magazine was a sign of success. For the musical fan, the magazine was the only way that we could get any information from our favourite artists. The heyday for the metal and rock movements was the Eighties. Hundreds of different magazines appeared that covered certain genres and information was plentiful.

I started purchasing Guitar World magazines from January 1986. Any magazine that had content of bands/artists that I liked I devoured.

Circus, Faces, Metal Maniacs, Rip, Metal Edge, Hit Parader, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, Hot Metal, Metal Hammer, Kerrang, Guitar School, Guitar One, Total Guitar, Guitar Player and Guitar.

So how important is it to an artist to be on the cover of Guitar World today?

Back in 2013, I still subscribed to the magazine and I had all the issues for the year mapped out in front of me.

This was the cover roll for 2013.

December – Nirvana – In Utero Anniversary
November – John Petrucci
October – Synester Gates / Zacky Vengeance
September – Ultimate Prog Roundtable/Asking Alexandria
August – Jeff Hanneman Tribute
July – Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne
June – Dave Mustaine / Chris Broderick
May – Brad Paisley
April – Orianthi
March – SRV “Texas Flood” Anniversary
February – The Who / Pete Townsend
January – Led Zeppelin Rides Again

Guitar World likes to play it safe. Sort of like a record label in the current environment. Not a lot of new artists in the list because they don’t sell advertising.

Each issue is still enjoyable and the lessons, plus the tabs are the reason why I still subscribed to it.

However, with user posted tabs on the rise in greater numbers on the internet (along with peer reviews and edits), plus YouTube videos of guitarists covering their favourite songs, in addition to the artists themselves delving deep into the “how to play” department, does a magazine like Guitar World still have a relevance in today’s market?

SCORE SHEET

STREAMING
Everyone talks about the money that isn’t filtering down to the artist however streaming is too entrenched to be replaced.

ALBUM
Everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy.

Remember that 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played.

SALES
Are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull.

PIRACY
Is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be.

LIVE
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. By 2013 standards, it was too expensive to take kids to a concert and with a pandemic/endemic happening right now, it’s not even safe.

MUSIC IS DERIVATIVE

All the music we love is an amalgamation of music that has come before. In a lot of the cases, this amalgamation involves some serious copying.

In other words, the history of music as I know it involved a lot of “stealing.”

MUSIC IS DERIVATIVE 2

Since the Copyright industries have grown into Corporate monoliths, it is suddenly uncool for an artist to use previous works as influences for further works.

But.

Those artists who “steal” are the most successful. Those who “imitate” are the most successful. Those who “copy” are the most successful.

Led Zeppelin built a career on copying blues and folk standards.

Metallica built their career by copying their NWOBM influences and many others.

Oasis built a career on copying from “The Beatles”.

The Beatles built a career on copying from blues and rock standards.

It is a shame that we have a generation of people that have grown up with a belief that music is created in a vacuum and they decide that legal threats is the best way forward.

When Balance Sheets are affected, these industries will do anything to hold on or maintain their profits.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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