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

STREAMLINE

Where do you want your fans to go?

Give people too much choice and they don’t buy at all. It’s one of the reason’s why a lot of people are still sitting on the fence when it comes to streaming. They’re not sure if it’s going to stick. My musical journey started with vinyl and cassettes, then I had to upgrade my vinyl/cassette collection to CD’s, then I ripped all of my CD’s into MP3’s and now I’m doing streaming. As just one music consumer from the millions in the world, I have Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace” on vinyl, on CD and on CD again as a remastered release. Actually, this is the same deal for all of Megadeth’s output up to “Rust In Peace”.

For Motley Crue, (it’s the same deal for all of their albums up to 1989) I have “Dr Feelgood” on cassette, vinyl, CD, CD remastered, in the box set “Music To Crash Your Car Too” and on CD again remastered with bonus tracks.

For the 1994 Motley Crue CD, I have it on cassette, the CD with the red writing and the CD with the yellow writing. Plus I have the super expensive Japanese EP, “Quaternary”.

So you can see how band sales are really inflated when you have other people in the world doing the same thing I am doing, which is re-purchasing the music in different formats and in some cases with bonus tracks upgrades.

I will used “Shout At The Devil” and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue as a case study.

“Shout At The Devil” came out in January 1984. By November 1989, it was certified triple platinum for 3 million in sales in the U.S. You could safely say that Motley Crue had 3 million fans. However in May, 1997, it received its 4x Platinum award for 4 million U.S. sales. While the label and the band would believe they had picked up an extra million fans, the truth is, those million sales over 8 years came from their original 3 million fans, re-buying the same album in a different format or packaging maybe once or twice.

“Dr Feelgood” came out in November 1989. By January 1991, it was certified 4x Platinum for 4 million U.S. sales. Its next certification came in May, 1997, for six million U.S sales. Again, the band didn’t just pick up 2 million new fans. Instead it was the hard-core fans re-purchasing an album they already owned on normal CD and then with the remastered bonus tracks.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late 90’s they had too many models, all with design and functionality issues, that even Apple couldn’t keep up servicing them. So, it’s no wonder that Jobs streamlined the product range. And then Apple started to make money again. Now that Jobs is gone, Tim Cook is following the same mistakes of the other clueless leaders Apple had when Job’s wasn’t in charge. Too many products with too many bugs.

Look at the band releases these days and how many different offerings they have. The recent Metallica release has the following packages;

  • CD – normal album
  • Vinyl – normal album
  • CD – Deluxe album
  • Vinyl – Deluxe album
  • iTunes – normal album
  • iTunes – Deluxe album
  • Streaming – normal album
  • Streaming – Deluxe album

Why is there a need to have a normal album release and a deluxe album release these days?

Why can’t the album just be the album? If the band wants to put out three discs, let them and call it THE ALBUM…

Price and the how people will pay high prices for what they deem superior or rare is one of the reasons mentioned for the deluxe edition still existing but these days the deluxe edition is not in limited supply anymore. Millions are in circulation. The real main reason is due to artists and labels refusing to abandon the past.

Jobs refused to be chained to the past. Legacy ports were axed on the iMac. CD Rom drives got axed on later versions. The iPod was murdered by the iPhone. If Jobs let the past dictate the future, Apple would have been left dead and buried. But the past is the Achilles heel for the music business. The public is moving on. It doesn’t care if HMV goes under. It doesn’t care if mp3’s are declining. Hell, mp3’s via Napster is nearly 20 years old. The public at large doesn’t care about deluxe editions. Super fans and fans of bonus tracks do care but the music business cannot roll on these fans alone. It needs the majority, hence the reason why streaming has become a big player, because it offers access.

Trust me the labels would prefer to not have streaming, because the listens are anaemic on signed acts. Hell, there are DIY bands who have more listens on their account than label backed bands. But streaming exists, because the majority wanted it.

Don’t let the past dictate the future.

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

Playlists And Streaming

Spotify is growing. The pop artists or the cross-over artists from other genres into the pop world are getting into the 100 plus millions/billions listens. And the high counts are due to two things;

  • Spotify Playlists.
  • Listeners Playlists

If a song is added to the most followed playlists, then the listens go up.

There is a “Rock In The 2000’s” playlist created by Spotify and if you check the songs on it and then check the streams the songs have on the artist account, you will see those songs on the playlist dwarf the rest of the catalogue. For example, “Chop Suey” from System Of A Down is on the Spotify playlist and the listens of Chop Suey is exponentially higher than the remainder of SOAD’s catalogue.

“Drake doesn’t lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it’s ready, Drake puts out music. So it’s not the typical, “I’m gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music.” I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music.”
Spotify’s Troy Carter on Drake’s Streaming Success

Drake is as metal and rock as the soap in the bathroom is metal, however the lesson should be applied to all. New music is an invitation into the world of the artist. It’s not the only thing. Capture the moment and release when the song is ready, not many months later when the album is ready.

Platinum selling artist Mark Tremonti has released three albums in 2 years, and while Tremonti and Alter Bridge are on tour, he is spending his free time giving guitar lessons/doing guitar clinics as an additional income stream.

It is easier to find and less costly to release new music, leading to unpredictable successes from artists who might not have been discovered or produced an album in an earlier era.
Michael Luca and Craig McFadden – Harvard Business Review

And that’s the cold hard truth about music in 2016. Artists who normally wouldn’t be signed can suddenly record and release music into the world. The supply of new music over the last 10 years is way higher than the demand for new music. Hell, I listened to 950 plus unique artists on Spotify this year. I grew up in the 80’s with no more than 50 or so unique artists. Spotify has over 20 million songs that haven’t been listened to yet.

Sure, some of the Spotify playlists might be a PR exercise for the labels, in the end, it still comes down to the user, who still likes to have some a filter to push new music on them. But then the record labels would like to mislead people about how much it costs them to break an artist to the mainstream.

The truth is the labels don’t break artists. They can spend monies on the artist, the promotions and put them out into the market place, however it is the people who decide if the artist will break on through. And what we are seeing more are artists making it on the back of streaming and no radio support.

But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Yeah, I got no idea who the above artists are and none of them are really rock or metal, but the possibilities are there for unknown metal and rock bands to become streaming behemoths without the support of record labels and radio stations. However, having a high streaming listen count doesn’t automatically correlate to concert ticket sales or sales of recorded music, much in the same way Facebook likes/followers never equal sales. The artist will need to work even harder to convert those listeners into real fans, because a lot of streaming users are casual fans who like to check songs out.

 

In the back-end of Spotify, for instance, fans are split into three categories: streakers (who have listened to the artist every day in the last week), loyalists (who have listened to them more than to any other over the past 20 days), and regulars (who listened to the artist on the majority of the days in the month
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Spotify is building the data banks instead of the labels. Apple already has the databank. The labels have done nothing in this regard. So as an artist, who do you want to partner with?

And finally, there are the playlists. The more playlists the songs are added to, the more exposure the songs will get and this is where the old gatekeeper model comes into play. How does a rock or metal band get their songs onto a Spotify created playlist that has over a million followers?

STREAMING – changing the music business again
STREAMING – artists who made it huge without radio support
STREAMING – Swedish artists benefiting from streaming 
RECORD LABELS – breaking an artist 
SONGWRITER WHO SOLD HIS SONGS FOR A FEE AND IS UNKNOWN

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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
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. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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

Money Pool

“One of the biggest myths about being a rockstar would probably obviously be the word ‘rockstar’ itself. You know — that everything is given to you. You make free records, or you win a Grammy, or you have a platinum record and then everything’s sort of easy. I remember when we first got signed in 1995 in my mind I thought, ‘Wow, we made it.’ and then I realized that we left our town of Sacramento and went to the Midwest of America and we’re playing for 2-3 people a night sometimes.”
Chino Moreno – DEFTONES 

Def Leppard released two albums before they started to write the songs for “Pyromania”. And to top it off, they had a 700,000 pound debt to the record label. Bon Jovi had a US$500K debt to their label and still living at home with their parents when Jon and Richie started to write the “Slippery When Wet” album in the basement of Sambora’s mothers place.

“I mean, somewhere along the way, people just played music for the love of playing music and somebody else recognizes that you can make money from it, and it’s been a developing thing to the point where, in the ’90s, music business was making so much money that it was bigger than the movie industry, bigger than any of the entertainment industries. There’s the business and there’s the music. I was raised in the business and I remember seeing how there were clashes between people — this is the way to make money and da da da… there was so much money involved. And then the Internet came along and just F–#d the whole thing up. So now the industry is struggling to figure out how to make money off of it and artists have actually gone to the point of conforming to the industry — how they can make money — so they’re all working together. I think there’s still this whole creative side that hasn’t changed which doesn’t really want to fit into that category, but it’s hard to make a living. So a lot of people do that by playing clubs. But it’s just harder, the opportunities are different from when I started.”
SLASH 

All hell broke loose in the late nineties. According to the recording industry and the media outlets that spin their garbage, Napster killed everything. But music is powerful and fans still gave their favourite artist money. It was just a shame the recording industry didn’t know how to deal with it or how to track what was popular via the pirate sites and try to monetize those fans. And we all know how the recording industry responded.

“When we started, being in a rock band was one step away from being an outlaw. No one ever said, ‘Oh good, you’re playing in a rock band, how wonderful!’ But music was so important to the fans, that was our marching music to the revolution. Stuff moves along, technology moves along. I think there’s still going to be an excitement created by seeing your favourite performer live. It might not be the kind of music that you and I like, or Gene likes, but it’s still going to be there.”
Joe Perry – AEROSMITH

And the kerfuffle with bootlegged CD’s at Amazon. That is another recording industry screw up. Fans purchased a product that they believed was legit.

“On a commercial level, rock and roll is all safe, but underneath all that, there is a great hard-core young movement that is doing rock and roll in earnest. It’s just that the way the business is right now, it’s so corporate that none of these bands will get a shot to do what I got to do, you know? Be discovered in a club and have an A&R person develop the band and get them ready to go into the studio and make a record. And then make a second, third record ’till they really come into their own. Now it’s all about commercial one-hit wonders, and it’s a whole different industry now. But there’s a lot of great rock and roll bands out there that have to go the way it should be done; for the passion and not for the money. It’s not for the glamor of it but because you love it. A lot of people are doing it because they have an agenda.”
SLASH 

And almost 20 years later, the song remains the same. The youngsters surge forward into the future with little experience and plenty of hope. The only difference is they document it via social media. Back when I was growing up, we did it anonymously.

“Any useful technology that’s successfully adopted by a culture won’t be abandoned. Ever. The technology might be replaced by a better alternative, but society doesn’t go backwards. After books were accepted, few went back to scrolls. After air conditioning is installed, it’s never uninstalled.”
Seth Godin

Streaming has won and artists are recognizing the difference between “one” sale transaction and the unknown of how many times that person listened to the music vs a person listening to the music multiple times via a streaming site.

Streaming has been adopted and the majority of people are not going back to vinyl, CD’s, cassettes or mp3’s in the same way the majority of people are not going back to Kodak cameras with films or purchasing an expensive camera when their phones will do a job that is “good enough” and “convenient”.

I’m still in between. I love the convenience of streaming however there is a part of me that still yearns to have an actual product of my favourite band on a shelf. I am sure my kids would dump my music collection after I pass, but while I am alive, I am still a collector, but a picky collector.

“It’s really not fair when an artist is making a deal based upon ‘take it or leave it.’ I don’t believe that most artists are getting what they deserve; they’re getting what they can. And that’s a–backwards. That’s the tail wagging the dog. When somebody is, in essence, saying, ‘I will do this with or without you’ — well, you don’t have much to stand on, and that’s the unfairness. That’s the injustice of the Internet.”
Paul Stanley – KISS

With more people streaming and paying for a subscription, the pool of monies will grow.

Money was low when vinyl came out. Not everyone had surplus cash to purchase vinyl in 1948. Eventually as the economies rebuilt post WW2, people started to spend money on “entertainment”. By the time Paul Stanley got into the music business, vinyl was over 20 years in the market and there was a lot of cash to go around. Then the vinyl cash dwindled until CD’s became the cash king and the record labels rode that wave until Napster came and showed them what people want.

Let’s judge streaming in 2030.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Metallica – A Lot Has Changed Since 2008.

Seduced by fame
A moth into the flame

I have been listening to “Moth Into Flame” on Spotify daily. I must say it’s one of the their best songs written since we entered the 2000’s. The structure of the song, the brilliant intro, the lyrics, the barking verses and the melodic chorus all stand out.

Infamy
All for publicity
Destruction going viral

It could be about anyone in the entertainment business. Hell, it could be about Metallica’s Napster lawsuit.

For “Hardwired… To Self Destruct”, I like the lyrical message and the story behind the title more than the song in itself.

“Fifteen years ago, when you put out a record, there was a particular way that you did everything. Now it’s just whatever works for you. We’re in the process of putting a new record out this fall, and we’re just doing whatever we feel is right. There’s no particular way that it should be.”
Lars Ulrich – METALLICA

The last time Metallica released an album was in 2008. First week sales of “Death Magnetic” in the U.S market topped half a million units. But back then, streaming didn’t exist in the U.S market. It also didn’t exist in the major European and Asian markets. Now streaming makes up a large portion of the record label revenue however the price points are still debated. The customer has the option to purchase an album digitally, purchase the album on vinyl or CD, subscribe to a paid streaming service, subscribe to Spotify’s free tier or illegally download the album for free. Depending on the country you are in, the price points range from $0 USD to $10 USD.

As the Forbes article states, there is no alternative price in between even though research has shown that a $4.99 USD monthly subscription fee would convert the 60 million free tier streaming users into paid users.

What is better for the recording industry, 30 million users paying $9.99 USD a month or 90 million users paying $4.99 USD a month?

Do the math.

30 million paying users at $9.99 = $299,700,000

90 million paying users at $4.99 = $449,100,000

Metallica are masters of their own destiny, masters of their own recordings. For them, they do not have the high risk unknown that other labels have. They do not spend close to 20% of their revenue on artist development. They can negotiate their own streaming rate with Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and Google. But they still do it the old way, taking time out to write and record 10 plus songs for a release. They will still judge this album on amount sold, instead of the amount streamed.

The article at Forbes, states what the record labels of the future would look like in six bullet points and one of the points is an artist-run record label.

Metallica own their masters. With the help of their management team, they have set up their own label. This gives the band negotiating power and it allows them to monetise their masters for the best price possible. Spotify has Metallica on it and it was on Metallica’s terms. You don’t hear Metallica complaining about the lack of money given to them by streaming services. Actually Kirk “I need a wah wah pedal for leads” Hammett might complain.

“Back in the day when Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning approached the music industry with a little baby they had called Napster, and the music industry refused to entertain any kind of deal with them on any level. Instead they open-sourced it to the world, and that changed the face of music. And so the industry’s reluctance to go with technology back in the day is something that we’re all, unfortunately, suffering from to this very day. Thankfully, the industry has seen the error of their ways, and they are embracing digital and technology on an unprecedented level, and we’re going through an adjustment period. It’ll take time.”
Dan Draiman – DISTURBED 

Instead of working with Napster, the recording industry got Lars Ulrich on board and went to war against the consumers of music. But in 2016, the recording industry is at another crossroad. It needs to decide on a price point for streaming that converts the 60 million plus free users into paid users. But the record labels want an increase in the current $9.99 price point. As far as the labels are concerned, it needs to be more.

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

The Streaming Wars, iTunes Suspending Downloads Due To Decreased Sales While Bandcamp Sees An Increase in Sales

“It’s (streaming) not the enemy and the thing that frustrates me is the old guys, and I call ’em the old guards; now what a nasty position to be in to be thought of as a gatekeeper. Because you’re a rockstar, you’ve been around 20, 30 years — some of ’em 40 years — and you say, ‘Bah humbug to streaming!’ You say, ‘Bah humbug to rock. Rock is dead. There’s no hope for the future. Put your guitars down and go get a job in a bank.’ It’s, like, that’s not the message that young musicians and fans need to hear. They need to hear, ‘Streaming is your friend. The listening experience is more exciting. Pick up your guitars, there’s a career for you out there. The next Elton John’s out there. The next Metallica’s out there. The next Beatles is out there. The next Muse is out there — they’re out there.’ They’re young, they need to be pushed to be the best they can be; they don’t need to be told there’s no future. There’s money and there’s hope, and what money gives musicians is the opportunity to have stability. And with stability you can continue to create music and, when an artist is creating music, we get to do interviews and talk about it.”
Nikki Sixx 

Suddenly Google has become the baddie when it comes to piracy being. The tech giant is accused of the same crimes that Napster, Limewire, The Pirate Bay, MegaUpload, etc. were accused of previously.

It’s been ongoing for a while, especially around the takedown procedures. Suddenly musicians are now speaking up against the small payments from YouTube. Nikki Sixx and Deborah Harry spoke out against YouTube.

Manager Irving Azoff mentioned YouTube should allow musicians to opt out of the service, and if the musicians via their backers ask for their content to be removed it should be removed permanently and not allowed to be put back up without the consent of said musicians.

And if you have ten minutes, check out the latest rant against YouTube. It is a read of BenHur proportions.

And then there was a rumour of iTunes cancelling music downloads which was denied by Apple. However where there is a rumour, there is also some truth. The article states;

“Whether or not Apple wakes up one day and decides to tear down its iTunes music download store is not the most important thing.  Because they are already starting to get rid of it.  This phase-out is already happening and Apple is definitely assisting this process.  They are definitely not growing their download store and they are doing what it takes to make this die a natural death.”

The article talks about how Apple is blurring the lines between iTunes and Apple Music, by corrupting our iTunes downloads with the Apple Music product, even going as far as replacing your paid iTunes download with the a different version licensed for Apple Music. Apple believes by doing this process, the user would eventually give in and pay for an Apple Music Streaming subscription.

And the major record labels couldn’t care less. They will phase out CD’s and if mp3 downloads are phased out, the only mp3’s pirates can download are the web rips of YouTube songs. Which if you read the above, the labels are really pushing hard to tear down as well. All of this means the labels get back control of the distribution channel that Napster took away.

They have hedged their bets with every digital musical offering, taking decent percentage stakes in each of them, so when they get sold or go public, the labels stand to gain billions. Add to that the millions earned from licensing the songs that they hold copyrights for and you get to see how much money is going to the record labels and not the artists.

But hey, YouTube and Spotify is to blame.

Bandcamp has posted a counter argument to Apples “iTunes problem”.

  • Bandcamp grew by 35% last year.
  • Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day.
  • Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp.
  • Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide.
  • Track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide.
  • Vinyl was up 40%.
  • Cassettes 49%…
  • Even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide).

Bandcamp is not just a download store. When a user buys music on Bandcamp, they also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via Bandcamp’s free apps as well as an optional, high-quality download.

In the past I have always mentioned that fans come in different ways and consume music in different ways and it looks like Bandcamp is positioned to capitalise on that.

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

Just Some Thoughts on Copyright, YouTube and Rock Music

Nikki Sixx and many others want Google to pay more for each YouTube stream so they could bring their payment rates up to the same standard of other streaming providers.

You notice how the people who are now speaking out against YouTube, are the ones who control the rights to their music. It’s because they know exactly what payments they are getting compared to other streaming services. The rest of the artists are clueless and at the whim of the record label creative accounting machine.

In case you were not aware, both Motley Crue and Metallica own their copyrights. Peter Mensch on behalf of Metallica spoke out about YouTube and called it the devil. Nikki Sixx is now calling out YouTube on payment rates.

Anthrax on the other hand are clueless. They kept their new album off Spotify for a few weeks, but it was all over YouTube via fan uploads. As a band, you cannot control what your fans do with your music and how they choose to share it but what you can control is how you release it. Anthrax can’t have the release cycle the way they want it to be (pre-Napster), much the same way any business that has customers, can’t run their business the way they did back in the past. Look at Apple as a perfect example of a business trying to operate like it did when Steve Jobs was alive, while Amazon, Facebook and Google have moved on and surpassed Apple as a leader.

Because the customers are king and they decide what is of value and what isn’t.

Imagine Prince’s post death stats if his music was actually available to be streamed on Spotify. In case you were not aware, every news outlet reported how his sales increased post death. It’s fantastic that his sales have gone through the roof again, as it will benefit his current management team/label. Not him.

And trust me when I say this, the people that will end up controlling Prince’s music will orchestrate a rich licensing deal for his music to be on streaming services. Because it’s all about the greed. Then the lawsuits would come against any artist who has a song that might feel and sound like a Prince song.

If people want to respect Copyright again, then all of Prince’s songs and his catalog of unreleased songs should be part of the Public Domain.

So which way do artists want.

Do they want strong Copyright enforcement forever and a day which leads to censorship and Corporate monopolies and billions of dollars in the hands of executives who created no art and fly in their own private jets, while the actual artists are paid pennies and fly economy?

Do they want the Tidal exclusives and making copyright infringement/piracy relevant again in the process?

Do they want their fans to purchase their music only, have big first week sales and to make copyright infringement/piracy relevant again in the process?

Do they want to make it as easy as possible for fans to access their music forever in any format the fan desires and as easily as possible?

Because in music there is a lot of value in recorded music, regardless if it’s streaming or mp3 purchases or actual vinyl/CD sales.

If you want to look at the value of recorded music and how you can make money when legal alternatives are better than the pirated alternatives, look no further than China. As a music market based on recorded sales, China, had no transactional recorded music business. Piracy was huge. However it is now bringing in some serious dollars. The difference here is that the record labels have built partnerships with the techies and ISP’s, instead of litigating them to death in the courts with stupid troll like suits and take down notices.

They tried a paid model in 2012, it failed. They tried again and again, until they got it exactly right for the CUSTOMER to buy in. Now digital music revenues in China brings in millions of dollars which were not there before at all. This is a good thing, but again, how much of it is going back to the actual artists.

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