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

…And Streaming For All

“I judge (the current state of heavy metal) it more by people coming to shows rather than on people buying music. It’s very different to what it was 20 years ago, but the live environment is unchanged, and that’s when you see if you are doing well. The tour that’s coming up is almost sold out already which is great news. It does seem to be a good time for metal.”
KERRY KING – Slayer

Damn right. The live environment is unchanged, however one important fact to add to that is that with more people than ever having access to music, guess what is happening. Shows are selling out quicker than ever.

Suddenly that Metallica fan or Venom fan or Iron Maiden fan that didn’t have the cash to purchase a Slayer album as we did have to choose once upon a time what albums to purchase based on the cash in our pockets, now has Slayer’s whole catalogue in front of them and at their fingertips. And it’s not just Slayer benefiting from this. All of the bands that have deep catalogues are benefiting from this, provided they are still together in some shape and form and roadworthy.

And of course, there is a lot of P2P illegal downloading going on, along with legal streaming options both paid and free.

In Australia, we are labelled a land of pirates, however, in the last year, these pirate fans of music have added 15.7 billion to the live music industry, which is a record for Australia.

Also, if you think that streaming is priced too high, then it is. The average music listener spends on average $22.80 a year on music. Set the yearly streaming fee of $25 and watch the user base grow exponentially. Hard core fans will always pay top dollar, but for music to grow exponentially, it is the casual music fan that needs to be monetized consistently.

What would the artists want, 20 million paying listeners at $100 a year or 100 million paying listeners at $25 a year?

Also if you read the ABC story, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Canada and Spain are markets that bands are consistently monetizing through live performances and they are also markets that spend the least amount of money on legal music options. High rate of P2P leads to high returns at the box office, if you are able to tour there.

Megadeth played China recently, to sold out crowds and even had their set censored. Metallica played China a few years ago to sold out audiences. Bon Jovi booked shows and the Chinese Government cancelled them. Avenged Sevenfold also played a censored set in China. Meanwhile, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Canada are consistent stops for Metallica, Bon Jovi, Avenged Sevenfold and Iron Maiden.

You see, when more people have access to music, there are rewards in other areas.

Let me talk about some artists for a moment that are not hard rock or metal.

Glass Animals is a four piece UK indie rock band. They have over 100 million streams, generating $700,000 in royalties for the rights holders. But the reason why I am mentioning this band is that their debut album came out in June 2014, and after 64 weeks, it is still selling units and it is still being streamed. It is getting more and more popular as time progresses.

“Without the word-of-mouth excitement that came via the streaming platforms – first Spotify and now apple music – we would never have managed to sustain a campaign that took the band from unknowns to headlining sold out shows.”
Amy Morgan, Manager 

Ed Sheeran (yes I know he is not metal or hard rock) is one of the biggest acts in the world. He has always gone on record about the benefits of Spotify and streaming services in general. He’s winning on the live circuit while those who are complaining about streaming are losing. He is two albums deep in his career and is selling out stadiums and arenas.

“The audience grew as people shared the album and play listed tracks thanks to the platform and support Spotify gave us. Tickets sold to shows sold globally and the world around “Zaba” (their debut album) and Glass Animals began to grow. Without that initial connection between band and audience and the word of mouth excitement that came via the streaming platforms – first Spotify and now Apple Music as well – we would never have managed to sustain a campaign that took the band from unknowns at SXSW 2014 to headlining sold out shows at The Wiltern in LA, T5 in NYC, Shepherds Bush in London and gathering huge crowds at major international festivals all round the world just over 15 months later.”
Emma Greengrass, Caroline International 

Streaming is not the enemy. It is the artists best friend. Read this article on Troy Carter’s (artist manager) views on streaming.

If you don’t click on the link, here it is…

Musicians, it’s time to stop hating streaming services, and here’s why. Troy Carter, one of the world’s most powerful artist managers (John Legend, Meghan Trainor, and previously Lady Gaga) just busted some myths with four reasons streaming is the future of music, not the end.

Streaming Will Earn Artists A Lot With Enough Users – Royalty payouts from streaming might seem small now, but that’s because it’s very new. Eventually as more listeners sign-up, the payouts could match the amount artists made at the height of the $16 CD era.
The Alternative Is Piracy – If music isn’t easily accessible for free with ads or through a subscription, people will just steal it and then artists earn nothing.
Labels Are Hoarding The Royalties – Services like Spotify and Apple Music pay more than 70% of what they earn to the labels, and most of the rest covers expenses of running the apps. The problem is that the labels push artists into exploitative record deals where they only get a tiny share of the royalties, and the labels keep the rest.
The Big Money’s Always Been In Touring And Merchandise – Labels have always screwed artists out of recorded music dollars. Artists should think of streaming as a way to get more famous, and sell more concert tickets and t-shirts.

Basically artists who are mad about streaming should demand better deals from their labels, remember the alternative is getting their work stolen, be patient, and tour. CD sales didn’t get huge overnight either. Once more people realize how amazing it is to be able listen to any song they want, the money will come.

You don’t see Metallica complaining about streaming payouts. They control their music and negotiated with Spotify on their own terms. And as Kerry King from Slayer puts it, Metallica is living on the first five records.

Bands in the Eighties had more freedom. It was just the times. The labels didn’t know how to handle the hard rock and metal bands in the beginning. As far as the labels were concerned the music was too abrasive for radio and crossover appeal, however the albums just kept on selling. The tours kept on selling. So the bands had free reign to do what they want initially.

And each time a band put an album out, it sold.

So the labels continued to stay out of the writing process and the bands produced works that are considered classics or monumental game changers for the genres the bands got classed in.

What we do know is that change is constant in music and the artists that manage to hold it all together end up winning in the long run. But it all starts with the song and giving people access to that song.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

2015

STREAMING
Streaming wins. So if you are an artist and your business model is based on recording an album and selling it, then you are challenged. However if you are an artist that creates new music to engage with your fan base then the world is your oyster.

DATA
The greatest value of any online company lays in the consumer data it collects. Why do you think Google, Amazon and Facebook are valued so high? So if you are an artist with an online presence what do you know about your fans? How do you turn fans into customers? How do you reward them?

DIVERSIFY
Diversity is the key to survival in any business. Amazon back in 1993 started off as an online bookstore. Now look at what it sells and what other services it provides. If you are an artist you start off with creating music. Then what is the plan.

NEWS/MEDIA
Who can we trust to be impartial today? The main news outlets are owned by massive corporations who are conspiring to control the narrative. They exist today to serve a select few. The ones that control the narrative are the ones that control life because in the end people love a story. That’s why novels, TV and movies are popular. That’s why reality TV shows employ scriptwriters.

TOURING
All the money for the artists is in touring. If you are a new band, then you need to establish a fan base before you even contemplate playing a show or touring. It’s totally different to when I was starting out. If you are a small independent band and self funded or a large independent band and self funded your mission is to constantly release new music, connect with fans and play live. It’s a lot of hard work and if all band members are not on the same page animosity ensures.

ALBUMS
If you are going to spend the better part of a year writing and recording it, then it needs to be great from start to finish. Good is not good enough anymore. Even though Five Finger Death Punch released two albums worth of music they really had enough great songs for one nine track album. Machine Head went three tracks too many on their new slab. Megadeth on Super Collider really had three good songs with a cool cover of Thin Lizzy. It should have been an EP instead of an album. Isn’t it better to tour on four great songs then a whole albums worth of music where only one song is included in the live set.

TECH
Our digital lives are all tangled up with the big technology companies, like Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. These big techies are also becoming the powerful cultural gatekeepers that the much despised record labels held so dear for so long. Will the same hate befall the new cultural gatekeepers like it did the record labels.

TRUST
Our relationship with the large tech companies is based on trust: we trust them however we don’t really understand what they are gathering on us. And that trust will start to erode.

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

Thinking Out Loud About Music

MUSIC OVER MONEY

Everybody wants to get paid. But if money is your primary desire, you’re not an artist.

First and foremost an artists want to create and have their creations experienced by as large an audience as possible. There is a local Australian artist called Ricki-Lee Coulter who is in the pop market game. She has spent the last two years making her fourth album. This process has involved her funding a three-month stint in New York to work with American songwriters and producers, paying rent there as well as back in Australia. Then there was a self-funded trip to LA to work with more American writers, aware of the need for an ‘international’ sound to compete on radio. Then she flew an LA-based writer called Brian Lee to Australia for a ten-day workshop to co-write three songs. She paid for his flights and accommodation. And this is how she sums it up;

“Over the last ten years if I added it all up I could have totally bought a really nice house with what I’ve spent on my career. But sitting in a big house with empty dreams? I’d always be wanting more. I always pay for my songwriting trips overseas. I don’t want to be reliant on anybody or answer to anyone. I want to have the freedom to do things the way I want, not the way someone else does because they’re paying for it. I don’t want to take away from the support I get from my record label, but if I want something I want it. Sometimes it’s me that has to suck it up and pay for it and that’s fine, because I don’t want to have any regrets. Record labels aren’t an endless source of money. I’m lucky with the opportunities I’ve been given and I’m not left wanting. But if I wanted to be a billionaire I wouldn’t be doing music in Australia. There’s plenty of other jobs where you can work as hard as you do in music and make a whole lot more money. But I don’t do it for dollars and cents, it’s who I am. I’d feel empty if I didn’t do it.”

If you are not investing in yourself how do you expect others to do so.

CREATE

An artist creates constantly. That’s their job. You’ve got to keep doing it because you love it. You need to be trying to create something that connects all by itself and you have the fans spreading its greatness, not some marketing campaign.

TRUTH

How many Googles are there? How many Apples are there? How many Facebooks are there or Amazons?

The answer is ONE Major player. So why do you think that musical fans have time for thousands of bands.

POINT OF VIEW

Robb Flynn puts it out there with his journals and it is a great way to keep in touch with the fan base. It is him also creating art. His recounting of the “Through The Ashes Of Empires” album making off was brilliant.

LIKES vs MUSIC

Keep the likes for social media. They have nothing to do with music. Music has an edge and as an artist if you rub off all of those rough edges that make you unique, then no one will care about you.

CHANGE

People will try to change you. There are a million ways to screw an artist financially and career wise. Don’t change.

ONE TO MANY

The tech game is all about how can I go from one to many. In other words how can I produce something so good that it sells itself.  It used to be the musical game however it hasn’t been that way in a long while. You will never make money from recordings if you don’t have hit songs. I don’t mean a Billboard Number 1 style of hit,I mean a Paranoid, Live Wire, Holy Diver, Lick It Up, Darkness Within style of hit. Apple as we know it today was built upon the iPod. That was their hit.

VINYL/CD’s

It’s a niche market selling these musical artifacts. Now, more than ever before, your success depends upon your music. The traditional recording sales revenue may have tanked, that does not mean new opportunities have not arisen.

STREAMING

Streaming is just too easy, and on streaming services everything is available. You need great music to rise above.

TOURING

Recordings keep your career alive. Spend too much time on the road or leave large gaps in your recorded output then you are moving in the direction or being irrelevant.

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