A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

I am listening to the Avenged Sevenfold discography again today. Yep that is five days in row. What can I say, the new album, “Hail To The King” connected with me. I admit that the connection comes from the similarities of the songs on the new album to the bands that I grew up on.

As I have said many times, progress is derivative. One of the rules on success, is that you need to know how to be a member of the club. This is what Avenged Sevenfold is reaching for here on “Hail To The King.” They want to be a member of the classic rock club.  With 200,000 in U.S sales in two weeks they are well on their way. Spotify streams for the song “Hail To The King” are at 1,884,995 and YouTube plays are at 3,904,022 for the same song. Other songs on the album on Spotify have the following numbers;

Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889 streams
Doing Time – 372,238 streams
This Means War – 394,868 streams
Requiem – 333,633 streams
Crimson Day – 310,412 streams
Heretic – 277,498 streams
Coming Home – 288,336 streams
Planets – no data as yet
Acid Raid – no data as yet 

If you’re not spending money, then you are not investing in your future. That is why a DIY independent band like Digital Summer is still ticking over. All the money they make from music is invested back into the band. To supplement themselves, they hold down normal day jobs.

Don’t focus on the money aspect. Desperation can been seen a mile away and it is a turn off. Just try to be friends. Remember that the system is rigged against you. The deck is stacked against you. There are so many people that want to be in the music business, they are willing to work for free. There is no safety net. There is no fat cat with a cigar as mentioned by Yngwie Malmsteen saying that they will fund the record, they will fund the video, they will fund the tour and that they will promote you. This is what Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within doesn’t get. Piracy is not his enemy. His enemy is the millions of other wannabes that are trying to make it and are doing everything for free. Look at Netflix, their policy is to sign up shows that are pirated heavily.

The only way to make money in the music business is to be in the game a very long time. That way, you will be in a position to renegotiate and make better deals. That is why Metallica are huge and getting bigger. Spotify wanted them on their service and they came knocking with a deal that Metallica couldn’t refuse. That is why Motley Crue are still around and making more money than ever. That is why the battle over Queensryche’s name is huge. Even though the band is more or less over and the new music that is created is below Queensryche quality, the name of the band, and the legacy that comes with it carries a lot of weight in dollars. It is a full blown corporate dispute. That is why Geoff Tate has asked for the trial date to be delayed until January 2014. He is hoping that something can be sorted privately, otherwise if it goes to court and he loses, he loses a lot.

Make sure your music is good enough. If you believe that your music is good enough and you are still stuck in the same situation, then the problem is you. You have to figure out what it is about you that is not working and change it. It could be your look, your personality, your interactions with people or your lack of building proper relationships. I like the band Mutiny Within, however I hate the viewpoints that their singer Chris Clancy puts forward. He has been totally misled by others and focused totally on the money side of things.

Take Hold of the Flame from Queensryche sums it up with the lyric, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” Don’t be the one with a chip on your shoulder because of missed opportunities. John Sykes is one such talent that didn’t really get the respect and recognition he deserved outside of the core metal/rock community.

Remember that marketing isn’t the 4P’s model of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. Trying to extend the 4Ps model to a world of social media doesn’t cut it anymore. This is what Roadrunner is doing right now with Dream Theater. Here is the product, here is the price, we are placing it here for sale and we are cross promoting the streams of the new songs with the USA Today website and the Grammy Awards website.

Marketing is a one to many relationship. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are three tools that fit this ideal of marketing. You see, record labels used to charge bands for marketing back in the Eighties and the bands didn’t complain about the marketing budget. In 2013, bands are now marketed on Spotify, YouTube and Pandora and they are complaining at the royalty rates and advertising rates these services pay. It doesn’t make sense to me. Dream Theater has not officially released the two new songs on Spotify. Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” single on Spotify and it had 700,000 streams before the album even came out.

Sales is a one to one relationship. This is what iTunes, Amazon, Google Store, CDBaby and Brick and Mortar stores facilitate. Guess what, “Hail To The King” is out and it has moved 200,000 physical units in two weeks as well.

Notice a difference between the services that are used for marketing and services that are used for sales. Musicians fail to notice the difference, always linking marketing services to sales services and complaining about the lack of compensation from a marketing service, however when the Record Labels robbed them blind with $100,000 marketing bills, they didn’t complain.

You need to have skills, you need to know the rules, you need to know the game. You need to keep adjusting your game. On a battlefield, “Complacency Kills”. To stay on top of the music heap, you need to be on the leading edge. You need to remain motivated to succeed. Remember there is no safety net in music. You need to exceed the status quo in every way. You need to excel everyday 24/7. You need that outside perspective. If you surround yourself with enablers who have a vested interest in you making them as much money as possible, you will not get that perspective.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Social Media is Not Just About The Broadcast – What Dream Theater can be doing better compared to other bands?

Dream Theater is all about the advertisement/broadcast. Look at their Facebook account and it is all about the sell. This is expected as they have a new product and they are trying to push it. However, have they spent any time reading, listening or understanding what their fans are saying? The fans are the best advocates and for some reason bands are not realising it.

Compare what Dream Theater is doing to what Robb Flynn is doing for Machine Head with The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman… And Other Ramblings. He is engaging with his fan base through personal stories. Of course they still have the sell aspect going on for their Mayhem shows and no one is expecting the artist to stop the sell. The difference is those personal touches and stories.

Compare what Dream Theater is doing to what Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God is doing on Instagram. He takes unbelievable photos and the stories he shares with those photos via Instagram is all about engagement with people. There is no sell here. It is authentic and heartfelt. This is pure gold.

Compare to what Dream Theater is doing to what Trivium is doing on Facebook. Both bands have the same label and both have albums coming out within a month apart. Trivium had the official download of the song Brave This Storm (it was just one post and the post was called Transmission #2) and then it has all been fan and band pictures posted from various shows. Dream Theater have plugged the new song post after post after post. We get it, you have a new song.

Also when Dream Theater had the corporate deal with USA Today to stream the song, a lot of their fans from other parts of the world couldn’t listen to it. Of course that problem was fixed within a couple of days and then Dream Theater started re-posting links for the song.

I recently posted that the years of when artists took a year to make an album and went on a two to three year victory lap are over. The artists that still take a year to make an album in this current climate are doing themselves a great disservice as they will have an album that is basically dead on arrival. The faithful will buy the album and then the victory lap is over.

It looks like the bigger the network around a band, the less they focus on fan engagement. Bands or artists cannot expect to use their social media accounts only when it suits them, just because they have a product to push or a song to push and expect that the fans will remain engaged.

A perfect example is Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi. Dream Theater is trying to play in this field, however they don’t have the runs on the board to play against Metallica or Bon Jovi.

Bands with better runs on the board than Dream Theater like Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Halestorm, Lamb Of God, Sixx A.M, Kid Rock and Stone Sour are still looking at ways to engage with their audience on different levels. Don’t focus on how many followers or likes you have. It’s all about connections and trying to make those connections bring value to the relationship.

Bands like Metallica and Bon Jovi use PR agencies to run their social media accounts. Of course the whole business model of the PR company is the less is more model and to have total control over the message. This is in contrast with the social principles of giving out as much information and seeing what connects and what misses.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Shifting Thoughts with Evergrey, Dream Theater and Five Finger Death Punch – Are Corporate Deals the New Music Business?

The internet is flush with information about artists needing to do what is valuable to them. However what is valuable to them doesn’t always mean that it is valuable to everyone else.

So artists are always going back to square one. This is when artists will start to compromise their artistic vision and produce cookie cutter crap. However what an artist should be doing is to keep on writing. In the end, that valuable song will be written and it will translate to your audience. This is when the thing that you love to do, translates to an audience that loves what you do.

Evergrey is a Swedish progressive metal band. They are eight albums in so far. Their first album The Dark Discovery came out in 1998 and the most recent one Glorious Collision came out in 2011. The mainstay of the band is guitarist/vocalist Tom Englund, who also functions as the main songwriter in the band. Around him, band members come and go, with the most recent change happening in 2010.

Englund is remaining true to his artistic vision. He is not compromising on it and he is not changing his vision to chase any current trends. Drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage left Evergrey in 2010 to form a metal core outfit called Death Destruction with the lead singer from another Swedish band called Dead By April. Chasing trends.

It all comes down to what the artist wants to achieve from their career. Englund is all about the art and to me it seems like he is happy with the level of success he has. Would he like to be bigger? I am sure the answer would be YES to that, however would he complain about his lot in life. I think not. Englund is doing the thing that he loves to do and he has found an audience that loves what he does.

Bands like Coheed and Cambria, Digital Summer and Protest The Hero all get it.

Digital Summer is all fan funded. They have been around since 2006. They have toured strategically since inception as all the band members hold down full time jobs. They are three albums and one EP in so far and based on their business model, they will be around for a long time.

Protest The Hero is also fan funded. Their recent Indiegogo campaign more than tripled their goal (and YES I am one of those fans that donated). They have even rewarded the super fans that have shared the contribution link and gotten other people to contribute with additional perks.

Coheed and Cambria are a very fan centric band. The way they have packaged The Afterman releases with the digital downloads available on the day of release, along with demos and back stories of each song, as well as an 80 odd page hard cover book is just brilliant. They did it their way and with a price that was just right.

Dream Theater is one band that is sitting on the fringe here. They are still doing it the old way as they know their fan base will lap up the new self-titled album. Their recent co-promotion with mainstream entity USA Today to launch their new single The Enemy Within is just another corporate deal in the same vein as Jay Z partnering with Samsung.

USA Today offer a certain amount of dollars so that they are the exclusive and first on line website to premier the new song. By doing this, Dream Theater, their label, their manager and whoever else has a stake in the band will get paid up front and USA Today will get traffic to their website which they can then use to get a higher ad revenue from their advertisers’.

Before all the DT Forum Elitists start jumping up in arms and start calling me an idiot, every band is entitled to earn money in any way they see fit. This is no different to Dire Straits and Phillips teaming up in the Eighties, to push the new CD format onto consumers. If that what Dream Theater’s business model needs them to do, good on them. In the end the fans will decide the fate of the band, as they have done for every band that came before and that will come after.

Five Finger Death Punch did something similar were they teamed/partnered with Loudwire to produce a track by track webisode series. The Five Finger Death Punch co-promotion was super cool as it focused on delivering back stories to each of the songs. As a fan, it is those little extra details that I really like. That could be the reason why Five Finger Death Punch have reached Gold status with each album release. Those little things, like a track by track webisode.

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