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

1983 – VII – Choirboy Lemmy Is Making Contact With Slayer and Queensryche

The Vinyl Story

By 1994, the compact disc industry (CD) had taken over. The most cherished vinyl collections of people became a distant memory. Add to that list cassettes. But something unexpected also happened in 1994. The third album from Pearl Jam called “Vitalogy” was released on vinyl for the first two weeks. And it sold and it showed the recording industry that there is life in vinyl. Fast forward to 2017 and vinyl releases are now becoming the norm.

But in 1983, vinyl and cassettes ruled. But the story of vinyl is more nuanced. In the same way 1998 was the peak of the CD, 1978, was the peak of Vinyl, according to the RIAA. Sales of vinyl decreased each year after 1978 until 1993.

By 1983, the mighty cassette overtook vinyl sales and it stayed this way until 1991..

And speaking of vinyl, check out the back cover of the first Metal Massacre album. Look at the Ratt, Steeler and Metallica line up. Hard rock bands, metal bands and more abrasive metal bands are all together. United.

The Punk and Speed Metal Crossover Story

It all started with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. As Punk music became a commercial force in the late Seventies, metal bands had to adjust their sounds and tempo’s in order to compete with it. So even though most metal bands hated punk bands, there is no denying an unconscious influence on the metal genre. As the article at Vice states;

“Consciously or not, a lot of the anger, aggression and speed of punk started seeping into the music, and Iron Maiden even showed their mascot, Eddie, with punked-out, spiked red hair on the cover of the band’s debut album. NWOBHM bands also adopted the DIY ethic of the punk scene, putting out their own albums and singles instead of waiting for the mainstream to catch up to their sound and give them a record deal.”

In the State’s the crossover of punk and metal happened around 1983.

As the Vice article states, each band had a member who liked punk and brought it in.

“In Slayer, it was the late Jeff Hanneman, and in Anthrax it was Scott Ian (and it also has to be said that even though Cliff Burton was a bell-bottomed hippie, he had more of a punk attitude than anything). As Hanneman recalled in a 2004 documentary, “I was really into punk when we were getting together… I forced it on the other guys…I loved the speed and energy, but I didn’t want to go with just playing chord patterns all the time, because that’s basically what punk is. I wanted to make it fast with good, heavy riffs.”

So what a fitting way to being Part 7 of my 1983 series with Slayer’s “Show No Mercy”. If you want to get re-acquainted with the other parts, here they are.

For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here. For Part 4, click here. For Part 5, click here. For Part 6, click here.

Slayer – Show No Mercy
Slayer’s debut hits the shelves in 1983, but I didn’t actually hear it until the late 90’s. This whole thrash movement has one unsung hero in Brian Slagel and his Metal Blade label. It all started from the “Metal Massacre” compilation and it kept on growing. A whole genre owes its success to Slagel.

It was Slagel who saw Slayer opening a show for Bitch (a band that was on the original “Metal Massacre” album. Impressed, Slagel asked the band to submit a song for “Metal Massacre III”. Soon after, Slayer had a recording contract and a few months later, “Show No Mercy” hits the streets.

“We did it every night from 11PM to seven in the morning. It was the only time this guy could get away with charging us next to nothing. We paid him for his time and for the tape. ‘Here’s a $400 check.’ We spent $1,500 for it in total. Kerry borrowed money from his dad to pay for half, and I paid half.”
Tom Araya – Loudwire

Evil Has No Boundaries
When certain scenes happen, the majority of the bands have the same influences or similar influences, so they start to do the same thing as other bands and there is a lot of copying going on. You can hear the NWOBHM (Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) in Slayer, with a special nod to Venom and Danish metallers Mercyful Fate.

Can someone tell me the difference between “Whiplash” from Metallica and “Evil Has No Boundaries”?

Who cares anyway, both songs are relentless and anarchic. The next re-iteration of the “heavy metal thunder” was faster heavy metal thunder.

Lyrics in the song are written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and Kerry King, while King is responsible for the music.

Midnight has come and the leathers strapped on
Evil is at our command
We clash with God’s angel and conquer new souls
Consuming all that we can

I’ve always classed the “WE” in the song as a movement/musical culture. In this case, it’s the aggressive speed metal movement taking on the status quo.

Die by the Sword
It’s written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) way before they were signed and it’s brilliant. The song has so many movements and so many different guitar styles/elements in it. It’s basically the style that Metallica would push even further between “Ride The Lightning” and “Justice For All”.

Mindless tyranny, forgotten victims

Governments create systems and Corporations create ways to make money from these systems. The Corporations then employ us to work. The banks then offer us ways to borrow from them and once we are in debt we are no better than slaves, the forgotten victims.

Metalstorm/Face the Slayer
The first 19 seconds is the embryo of the “Creeping Death” intro. James Hetfield or Kirk Hammett would have been influenced by it. Musically, it is a Kerry King composition and lyrically, it’s written by King and Hanneman

Your life is just another game

For the Corporations the game is to make money. How many lives they destroy in the process, is insignificant.

Queensrÿche

There is something unique about hearing the early recordings of bands. It could be the youthful enthusiasm or the fact that they wrote songs without thought of reward. When Queensryche started back in the early Eighties, they were called the Mob. Once they got management and a label interested, a simple search found another band with  that name.

“At the time, Chris DeGarmo, had the song “Queen of the Reich,” which was [inspired by] a nightmare that he’d had. We combined “queen” and “reich” and gave the result a new spelling. There weren’t many bands in the Q section of record stores back then, so that helped us stand out.”
Michael Wilton

Between 1981 and 1983, The Mob worked hard to save up enough cash to record a four-song EP. But they still couldn’t find a singer. They called up Tate who was still in the band Myth, and asked him to lay down the vocal tracks for the EP, and Tate agreed.

At the time of the recording, The Mob had three finished songs in “Queen of the Reich,” “Nightrider,” and “Blinded.” The music for another song was complete, but it had no lyrics. Tate liked the music and decided to write lyrics for it. The song would become “The Lady Wore Black.”

The completed EP generated a buzz in the Seattle scene, however major labels rejected it and Geoff Tate went back to Myth.

“We had four songs that we recorded at a local studio called Triad Studios. It was an eye-opener for us to be in such a big room and use analog tape and a big mixing board. We had a lot of fun, and it was a learning experience. Then we pressed about 20,000 EPs. Soon after, we got this amazing review in Kerrang! magazine, and that’s when everything took off. We all had day jobs—I was a resistor twister at this electronics place—and all of a sudden I hear “Queen of the Reich” on the local radio station. People thought it was some European band. They didn’t realize it was us!”
Michael Wilton 

It was the Kerrang review along with the sales of the EP that sealed Tate’s fate and he decided to leave Myth and join Queensryche full-time.

Queen of the Reich
While the demo was released in 1983, the songs are originally recorded in 1981. It’s a progressive metal composition that was way ahead of its time. The world also got to hear Geoff Tate, and they got to know one of the best songwriters in Chris DeGarmo via this song. I think it’s safe to say that Queensryche started off a New Wave Of American Metal Mastery.

“A lot of people don’t know about that song. A lot of people don’t care about that song. It’s an early song that was written and it shows. It’s funny the reaction you get, because it’s a lot of blank stares. In fact, it’s the same stare you get when you play a new song that nobody’s heard before. People just aren’t that familiar with it. Given there are a few hard-core fans that might know that song, or like that song, and know what it is, but the majority of the people there don’t. So it’s not really a song that I enjoy singing, strictly because, lyrically, it’s pretty adolescent. It was the first song written thirty-some-odd years ago and obviously I cannot relate to it anymore. I think, for performance, it’s always best for the performer to really believe in the material they’re singing or playing. If you don’t believe in it, it’s really difficult to get behind a song, do it well and do it at a level that comes across with any kind of believability. For me, I honestly can’t relate to the whole dungeons-and-dragons lyrical content of that song; it’s really cartoonish and juvenile to me”.
Geoff Tate 

While musically, the song is brilliant, it’s easy to understand why artists as they get older seem to steer away from certain songs because of the lyrics.

The Lady Wore Black

We sat for some time together in silence
Never speaking in words
Of all her thoughts she spoke with her eyes
And I listened remembering all I heard

All songs rooted in mysticism have their roots in real life situations and I am sure “The Lady Wore Black” would be no different. Hell, the verse above could be about a relationship going sour.

UFO – Making Contact
UFO is one of those bands who worked and toured quite hard and got stiffed on the money by managers and record labels. Even to this day, the re-releases of their classic albums just means a bigger pay-day to the record label instead of the songwriters.

To understand “Making Contact” you would need to go back to 1980 and Neil Carter is looking for a new gig, while still in “Wild Horses”. Phil Collen introduces Carter to UFO, who had just gotten rid of Paul Raymond. An audition was set up and Carter joined in the middle of recording “The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent”. Carter’s input came via backing vocals and the sax solo.

Then came the expensive “Mechanix” album, written and recorded at Queens’ studio in Montreux, Switzerland. After another commercial disappointment, Pete Way just stopped turning up and Paul Chapman with Neil Carter took over the bass duties for “Making Contact”.

“If there had been an offer I would have gone long before UFO made a move, to be honest. I have to credit them for giving me my first rock break, but the band were very limited on song writing ability and were always regarded as a pale THIN LIZZY clone. They were rock ‘n’ roll with a capital “R” and that led to some crazy times, poor performances and excess as you can imagine. I cannot imagine these days how I got through some of the situations that I was faced with over that period, and in UFO!”
Neil Carter

The line-up was Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Chapman on guitars, Neil Carter on keyboards/bass and Andy Parker on drums while Gary Lyons was on board originally and then replaced by Mick Glossop as producer.

They had a bizarre way of working as a lot of the songs were basically written as backing tracks with little or no thought of the melodies or lyrics until Phil Mogg actually did the vocals. A lot of the tracks were written and formed in the studio which is rather an expensive way of doing things! Sad in a way, but we had to get on with it and musically it made no real difference, surprisingly. I read a few things that Pete said about the direction the music was heading and, under my influence, how there were more keyboards etcetera, but UFO had always tried different things in the studio, long before I joined. For “Making Contact” Paul [Chapman] and I had to take control and use the studio time effectively. We were a bit more organized on that one and spent several weeks writing at a hotel in Sussex before recording it at the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. A lot of “Mechanix” was written in QUEEN’s studio in Montreaux… and that was expensive!
Neil Carter 

Blinded By A Lie
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg and it’s got a pretty wicked riff.

I got the information from a friend last night
And it looks so very different in black and white
I was “part of the second party”, that was me
Signed away my life, really couldn’t see

Is it about those dubious recording contracts artists signed in their quest for fame.

Call My Name
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

I met you watching the cars go by
You were there, every night, at the corner of elm and vine
And you had nothing to hide
For just a few bucks and you know it’s a free ride

One of the biggest problems for UFO was their lyrics. In 1983, we wanted the “rebellious, standing up to the authority” lyrics. Instead Mogg is singing about being in love with a lady of the street.

All Over You
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

Dumb lyrics ruin a good musical song.

By 1983, UFO was playing the MTV catch up game and their past 70’s success was not enough to keep them going, so it was no surprise that they disbanded. Billy Sheehan started off the “Making Contact” tour, but things didn’t go too well and after Phil Mogg performed wasted in Athens, Greece, UFO was no more.

Motorhead – Another Perfect Day
Another band that was playing the MTV catch up game was Motorhead. Although Lemmy was a legend of all legends, the Chuck Norris of the metal world, he wasn’t a superstar in a commercial sense and would never really become one. But the man had a way with words. Eventually, he would make more money writing lyrics for Ozzy than what he did with Motorhead.

Here is a quick snapshot of some golden words in each track from “Another Perfect Day”.

I really like this jacket but the sleeves are much too long
From “Back At The Funny Farm”
Lemmy’s take on a straight jacket.

Bet ya thought I wouldn’t have no style
From “Shine”
Don’t judge Lemmy based on his looks and appearance.

But you know you ran out of money
Wound up on your knees
From “Dancing On Your Grave”
A Lemmy tale for a cold winters night, about Lemmy’s favourite topic, a woman out of money and resorting to a career on her knees to make it through.

Rock’n’roll music gonna stop the world
From “Rock It”
The start instantly reminds me of “Under The Blade” from Twisted Sister. I would have used the words, rock and roll music gonna change the world.

Two faced women, two black eyes
From “One Track Mind”
The social lynch mobs would tear this line apart for promoting violence against women.

The truth is only black and white
No shade of grey
From “Another Perfect Day”
The legal profession deals with the grey.

Never rise again, we lost a million friends
From “Marching Off To War”
World War 1 and the end of worlds’ innocence.

Here’s the story, there’s only me
From “I Got Mine”
Damn right, it’s only Lemmy and no one else.

You’ll find that I’m real bad luck
From “Tales Of Glory”
It’s as heartfelt as Lemmy would get.

Deal with the misfits, wipe ’em out
From “Die You Bastard”
Lemmy’s take on governments trying to wipe out the punks.

Musically, this album is excellent. The problem was MTV and Motorhead didn’t fit the MTV bill of marketable bands that looked good on video. So Motorhead would be that cult band that is forever respected but not as commercially successful as they should be.

Heavy Pettin – Lettin Loose

“Glasgow in the 1970s was all about learning through meeting people, going to gigs (Nazareth included), running around wild, listening to KISS, getting drunk and learning to play guitar, and meeting lovely creatures that produce little people from their insides. Most of my learning about music came from three distinct places during the 70s: The Glasgow Apollo (an amazing place to experience live music at the time), Listen Records, and my mates Mick and Stu (incidentally, I played in a band with these guys – we almost started World War III in Scotland with our band the Criminal Minds). Had it not been for these three elements I’d have struggled with learning about music and the music business. Glasgow itself was made up of many crazy people who lived in dreary rundown council estates. I was born in the backroom of a tenement house on one of those estates in a place called Castlemilk. I remember Castlemilk as a place of violence and early deaths. I also remember it as a place of adventure.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Heavy Pettin are from Scotland and “Lettin Loose” is their debut album. Brian May was on board to produce and then disappoint three-quarters of the band with the final product. Roger Taylor was even asked to leave the room as his presence intimidated Punky Mendoza from recording a lead.

“When I joined Pettin the band was actually called Weeper. But it was only used as a transitional band name. I only played in one band before Pettin. It was basically a bedroom headache called Zero Trap. Incidentally, if you have heard of the band The Almighty, the original guitarist, Tantrum, was the bass player in Zero Trap.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Music is a lifers game. You can’t enter it when you want and expect something gold to happen. It’s a long process full of highs and lows.

“We actually did better in America than anywhere else. The name was accepted in America without any problems. The record company had better fries to cook than Pettin. That was why we never made it in the States.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza 

A lot of people asked why Heavy Pettin never made it. Was it the band name, was it the lack of a single or as a record label exec would say, was it the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice of their lead vocalist”.

In the 80’s, for a band to make it, they needed a large push from their record label. If that didn’t happen, their recorded product would not get out to listeners. I didn’t hear Heavy Pettin until the 90’s, when I picked up their first two albums in a second-hand record shop.

“There is no doubt at all that most of the band wanted to sound like a Mutt Lange production. In fact, partly due to the influence of Def Leppard, Pettin lost the chance to be managed by Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein – Leppard’s management team at that time.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Why have two of the same acts, especially when Def Leppard in 1983 are still very current and active.

In And Out of Love
The first 17 seconds sets up the song by using minor key (sad) with major key (happy). Overall, it’s a great song musically and the Chorus is pretty cool.

As a bonus, the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice” was not really relevant on album number 1, but it would be on Album number 2.

(In and out of love) she told me she loved me
(But love is not enough) oh, lead me away
(In and out of love) I’ve gone all to pieces
She can’t hear a word that I say

It’s a cool Chorus. Nothing original, but melodically its good.

Victims Of The Night
The 90 second intro is quality metal and for any people who said to me that Heavy Pettin is too light for them, I always tell them to check out this song. Because for 1983 standards, this song is as metal as it gets.

Can you hear the cries as they scream out in the night
The children live in fear, the victims of the night
(Raging like thunder) flashes line the sky
(They’re going under) too many young were born to die

The only time the title of the song is mentioned, and that’s in the first verse.

Take no prisoners
No-one stands in your way
Fight for your life here today

It seems like that every single day, especially right now. We are all so over committed with our banks/lenders, it’s a fight every day to keep a roof over our heads. Our leaders like to make war and in the process invite war back to the streets of suburbia. The war on drugs has been going on since the 70’s and almost 50 years later, more drugs are on the streets than ever before.

Rock Me

(They’re out there waiting) anticipating
(No turning back now) so get on with the show

The Rock N Roll show.

Once upon a time everyone could get a ticket at a reasonable price. Today, everyone can get a ticket at a premium price and depending on which credit card company you are with, you might have access to early pre- sales.

Roll The Dice

It’s basically a speed metal song.

You can’t get it all in your life
It’s the way you roll the dice

Damn right. Small actions each day lead to great changes in the future.

For an audience that was eating up the pseudo-Satanic barbed-wire pop metal of Crue’s Shout at the Devil, Pettin’s breezy melodic rock didn’t quite deliver the goods.
Classic Rock Magazine 

Choirboys

“We used to rehearse in a friend’s parents’ garage. Then we went into a shop that was in a deserted building that we rented from somebody for about a year. We did recordings in there and we did rehearsals there. That was at Rosebery in Sydney. It was a classic garage band. We literally rehearsed in a garage.”
Mark Gable

Choirboys is an Australian band, formed in 1976 on the Northern Beaches, about 90 minutes away from where I live on the Southern Beaches. By 1983, they had a record deal with Albert Productions, after a demo found its way to George Young.

“And then George rang me up and said ‘I like what you’re getting together Mark’ and away we went… And then there was no turning back. As George described it, ‘you’re on the treadmill’ and it’s a wonderful treadmill.”
Mark Gable

As soon as they got some momentum going, Mark Gable’s vocal cords ruptured and 1984/85 was spent in hiatus. Of course, once “Run to Paradise” came out in 1987, the Choirboys, would go on to fulfil the potential they showed 4 years earlier.

Never Gonna Die
“Never Gonna Die” is the lead single from their self-titled debut.

When the Fridays bring the weekends
The night will be our home again

It’s a pub rock song, about playing in a pub. You can’t get any more Aussie then that. Maybe our PM Turnbull can add Pub Rock to his list of Australian values.

The smell of beer and perfume

All of these places still smell on beer and perfume and whatever else ends up on the floor these days.

I don’t live for music, no
I say I live for rock ‘n’ roll
We won’t let them push us
We won’t let them touch us

It’s a melodic rock anthem.

Other tracks of note on the debut album is the AC/DC inspired “Talk Big” with some cool lyrics about people I am sure we have all come across in our lives.

And I’ve seen you kiss the feet
Of someone better than you

Yes, how many of those people have we met in life?

Well you Talk Big
But you ain’t got nothing to say
All that big talk
But your mouth gets in the way

In the end, all of that big talk lends to empty houses and loneliness.

Your With The Big Boys Now (Carrie)
The riffs in this song are brilliant and it’s got some tasty shred at the end.

You’re sleeping with a rock star
You’re with the big boys now

It’s all about trying to grow up to fast.

Fight by the Book

Another tasty guitar lead over an AC/DC inspired rhythm.

He gets his clothes
At the best store
He gets his hair cut for free
He never walks with the riff raff
He wouldn’t like to talk to me

We are the riff raff and we are the ones that drive society and culture. It would be great if we all realised it.

Bull Shit

I say the politics
Well they’re lunatics
They say it’s right
But we know it’s wrong
Spread the word

It’s all just
Bull shit to me

We used to call it once upon a time. These days, we still like to call it, however with social media and the need for everyone to be liked, we are hesitant.

On Twitter I see Zoltan Bathory get into a few exchanges with followers/trolls on his political and social views. Robb Flynn calls out Anselmo for racism and he gets his life threatened. Artists who supported Clinton, slam Trump and his followers and alienate a percentage of their fan base who voted for Trump.

Saxon – Power And The Glory

It’s their fifth studio album produced by Jeff Glixman and their last album on Carerre before their supposedly big money move to EMI Records in 1984.

Well, I always thought that was one of our best albums, because it was great to do it. We did it in Atlanta with Axis Studios with a guy called Jeff Glixman, and Jeff was great to work with, because he was sort of a pretty easy-going type, but he knew how to keep the band happy. So we’d go into the studio, and…he was a keyboard player and he’d have his Hammond organ, and he’d just say, “C’mon, let’s go jam some songs!” So we’d be there jamming some songs, and then he’d get off the keyboard, run into the control room, and say, “Right, we’re gonna do a take now!”
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

That’s a cool vibe to have recording an album, but not so cool when the band is forking out the cost of the recording. No wonder bands never recoup.

But Jeff got a good vibe out of us. But I could never understand why the critics didn’t like it, to be honest. It didn’t get really great reviews. But I like it. “Watching the Skies” is one of my favourites. And the actual title track, “Power and the Glory,” is brilliant to play live, absolutely. One of the best things ever.
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

The Power And The Glory
It kicks off the album with a riff that would have influenced Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

The General says we’ll will win the war,
Just sacrificed a thousand more

We just commemorated Anzac Day in Australia and if you read Anzac history, you will see how the British Generals sent the soldiers of their Commonwealth countries into battle first. While the young men got cut down by machine gun fire, the Generals watched from afar, safe from all the hell.

Nightmare
This song has got a cool groove.

That my nightmare begins where reality ends

“Take the blue pill or the red pill”, Morpheus said to Neo.

The Eagle Has Landed
It’s very Sabbathy in the Intro, just plodding along and building. And when the very “Stormbringer” influenced riff from Deep Purple comes in, it’s time to bang that head. Actually, when I heard “The Outlaw Torn” from Metallica, I immediately thought of “The Eagle Has Landed” from Saxon. The songs are very similar in structure.

The world’s in celebration
As we wait for your return
You took a giant leap for mankind
On another, on another world

The moon landing fascinated people. After another half a dozen more trips, the moon trips got canned. People got bored and didn’t really care anymore.

I had Helix, Great White, HSAS, Krokus, Arc Angel and I-Ten on this list as well, but the albums are not on Spotify Australia, so no commentary about them.

And if you want to listen to 1983-Part 7, click here.

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

The Past Is Done. The Future Is Here.

The Internet age.

Where everything is thrown against a wall and whatever sticks, ends up lasting forever.

In other words, first week sale numbers don’t mean a thing. The scorched earth publicity and marketing push by the label for an album release don’t mean a thing.

If any artist is focusing on the here and now, its contra to the way  the music business works in the connected Internet era. We’re (the fans) are only concerned with what lasts.

But the media tries to sell it so that everybody who is involved in music deserves to be rich from music. But how many are willing to do the work, especially when nobody’s paying attention to them.

Being in music isn’t about the highs or lows, winning and losing. It’s about surviving.

Here is a little secret.

The ones that end up winning in the future are creating their catalogues away from the radar, in stealth mode.

And it’s not easy.

Every musician is competing against the means of production. The costs to create content are low and we (the people) are overwhelmed.

What do we read, what do we watch and what do we listen to?

Everybody’s got a book to read, a documentary to watch, a track to listen to and no one’s got time to do it all. The last four years of my Guitar World subscription are still in the plastic wrappers the magazines came in.

Unopened. As a subscriber since 1986, I thought I would keep it going until this year is over. So January 2017 is my last issue.

The last time I read the magazine, it sounded like the article was written by the PR company instead of the actual journalist. There was no guts to the story and there was no in-depth analysis. Nothing at all. Gone are the days when Wolf Marshall used to go In Deep into players styles and so forth.

But the press over the last fifteen years believes it must promote everything and is rarely critical. And the press is missing the point how we are in the midst of a revolution, living in an era of chaos that will not last forever. But no one is reporting it. It’s all about piracy, copyright trolls, Spotify royalties or something so far removed from the real issue.

Fewer people will be successful from now on than before, despite everyone being able to create. We are going to have just superstars and niches.

And for all of those rock bands and metal bands, guess what, it’s still about the one song that hooks people in. But not all people. The entire world doesn’t live and breathe music. Remember that in your quest for global dominance.

And one last thing.

Spotify is not the problem, YouTube is. YouTube has more visitors and pays less. At least on Spotify you get the whole album along with the “song” that draws people in. Notice on YouTube it’s never the whole album. Yeah I know that some user accounts on YouTube have the whole album up but you need to look for them, go deep. So if you are in the album game, then you want your fans going to Spotify. But not a lot of artists are willing to say that.

But the album is fading. Yeah I know it makes great profits, but a 70 minute album with two good songs is a bad fit for today’s listeners. We don’t have time to listen to an album twenty times to get it. That’s what we did when we had no cash and could only afford one disc. But that was in the past. You don’t see the telegram and analog mobiles coming back.

The past is done. The future is here.

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

Reach, Vinyl and Record Label Lies

Before Napster, the only way a band knew that their music was spreading was by record sales. However, the fact that if a person purchased an album and listened to it once or a million times was never taken into account.

Today, there are so many different distribution outlets. The old way has been blown to bits and 15 years after Napster the record labels are still failing their artists because they haven’t done their due diligence properly in creating tools that can measure “REACH”. Yep, that is the new catch cry for 2015, REACH, not sales.

However, the labels are still confused and the artists more so. Imagine the conversation;

BAND: We should tour [insert country or city or state].
LABEL: Why, you have sold no albums there?
BAND: But we are one of the most downloaded artists there?
LABEL: Well those downloads are not legal ones and P2P is illegal.
BAND: What about Shazam look ups? I see our name all over that report on your desk from Shazam. Our songs are one of the most looked up songs in [insert country or city or state].
LABEL: Look all of this doesn’t mean you have a fan base there that will support you financially.
BAND: But, our streaming numbers are huge there?
LABEL: Leave it with us, I might get the lawyers to get together a 360 degree that will protect us both.

And the cycle of the record label shafting the artist starts again.

The record labels need the artists. It is from all of the copyrights that they own the record labels have achieved this power. With power comes great reach. And the labels abuse that power.

They increased the price of music to cater for the “start-up costs” in the CD manufacturing process back in the early eighties. It was only meant to be temporary and they promised the consumers that the price would be cheaper once they started manufacturing at a certain scale.

However that price never came down when they saw these unbelievable profit margins from CD sales and guess what they decided to do. They colluded to price fix the price on a CD and they killed off vinyl.

And now they are using overpriced vinyl again to increase their bottom lines.

Guess what.

Vinyl isn’t making a comeback just because there are dedicated people out there that purchase it. I purchased the four vinyl singles that Machine Head issued for the “Killers and Kings” demo. I still haven’t opened them and the reason why I haven’t opened them is that vinyl has become a souvenir item.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of vinyl. I have so many great memories around dropping the needle however the turntable that I have at home just doesn’t get used. It’s easier and convenient to bring up the music on the phone and to be honest, I can’t see myself sitting back on the coach, listening to the record and reading the credits while following the credits. I am pretty sure I would end up on my iPhone.

 

We multitask. Yesterday I was cooking a BBQ and I called up the Evergrey Channel on iTunes Radio and listened to that. While the meat is sizzling, I am writing lyrics and listening to music at the same time.

 

Kids today have grown up with the internet. They are full-blown digital natives. They know nothing of the music business before Napster. If they did, then P2P downloads would have dried up when The Pirate Bay was raided in mid-December. Instead, the kids just found different outlets because the past is never coming back.

 

I have three boys aged 9,8 and 3. The older two are high YouTube and Spotify users. The younger one knows of YouTube and everyday he asks me to find Thomas The Tank Engine, Batman, The Wiggles, Planes, Garbage Trucks, Twisted Sister or whatever else has his interest for that moment.

And I am pretty sure that my kids are not the only kids that access content via these outlets.

I’ve said it many times, we always gravitate to something that has reach and YouTube and Spotify have got the reach.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

What We Know

Machine Head is a premium metal band. They have earned their spot through killer releases since 2003. Slipknot did sell more with their new one however the quality of the music this year was with Machine Head while Slipknot became an institution like Metallica.

Big Corporations fail to learn. Sony got hacked in 2011 and did nothing to tighten up their security or to encrypt their data. In the 2011 hack, all of the Playstation user names, passwords and credit card details were stored on a text file with no encryption. Fast forward to 2014, and a lot of the sensitive information around salaries, payroll numbers and social security numbers were stored on a text file with no encryption.

No one cares that Chris Broderick or Shaun Drover left Megadeth. In the same way no one cared that Jason Newsted left Metallica. Hell no one cared when Dave Ellefson was not a part of the band. Just because they can write riffs it doesn’t mean they are any good. And there is no doubt that Chris Broderick can play and is very technical. But can anyone name a definitive song or riff that he wrote in Jag Panzer or in Megadeth.

The most pirated TV shows are also the most successful commercially and financially. And seriously isn’t it any surprise that the most locked up show behind paywalls and corporate deals is the most pirated. For anyone living under a rock, that show of course is Game Of Thrones.

The most pirated movies this year are movies from 2013. So when are the movie studios going to make these movies available on proper streaming services. The Wolf Of Wall Street finally made it to Netflix just a few weeks ago and it is a 12 month old movie.

Vinyl. Do you see dial-up internet and analog mobiles coming back or Amiga 500’s?

Speaking of vinyl, the fans as usual are getting ripped off. Vinyl is way overpriced, and if you purchase a vinyl record, you don’t get a digital download code. Some bands do it, especially in Pledge Music campaigns however if you purchase vinyl from an online store or a brick and mortar store, you get nothing.

Hellyeah’s “Blood For Blood” is a very underrated album and Tom Maxwell rose to the occasion as a songwriter and a guitarist.

Making money in music is still the same as it has always been. Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage provides some truths.

Irving Azoff and Global Music Rights (his company) is representing artists in their demands that YouTube take down their music. If YouTube doesn’t comply they will be suing YouTube for billions. And the reason why they are going after Google is that they have been the least co-operative and that Google has failed to license the works properly, while Goolge maintains it has. Yep this is another lawsuit to protect the 1% and nothing else.

The streaming argument is always loaded with emotion and no intelligence. Look at the facts. Pandora pays differently, Spotify pays differently and so does YouTube. Artists get a different payday and the songwriters get a different payday. If the artist is also the songwriter then they get a different payday. But when you add into the mix the record labels (who normally get the monies as the copyright holders) and the Publishing groups (who get a share) and the Performance Rights groups (who also get a share) and the Managers and the Accountants and the Legal teams and you get to see how decent payouts trickle into low payments back to the artist.

To prove my point a silent album experiment earned an independent band $20,000 for a 3 month period. And there stream counts had nothing on the numbers that the bigger artists generate. Goes to show what can happen if you cut out a lot of middle people.

Old men attached to the old ways are still running the music business. Take away their radio lifeline and the labels would be clueless as to what to do.

Data is sales. Why do you think Metallica and Iron Maiden hit markets and sell out straight away? Hell, Metallica is going to hit the road again in 2015. When a band can see huge numbers in certain cities from P2P traffic, streams, Shazam look up and they have the means to hit the road, they do.

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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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Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Record Label Innovation – Bring Back The CD in Blu-Ray?

For years the compact disc was the preferred audio format for music fans. In addition those years were the most profitable in the recording industry’s history.

Fans/collectors of vinyl and cassettes started to re-purchase albums they already owned for the sake of convenience. That is what the CD offered. Convenience.

It saddens me to keep on hearing that the recording industry still prefers a return to that era instead of innovating.

The most recent “innovation” comes from Universal Music Group.

UMG is launching a new audio format called High Fidelity Pure Audio. Basically it is a Blu-ray disc that delivers high definition audio recordings. This is yet another attempt to reinstate a long-gone profit margin that has all been done before.

There is nothing innovative about re-factoring the compact disc.

Remember convenience. Fans didn’t choose to replace the CD format with MP3’s simply because MP3s sounded better. It was about convenience. Convenience is key here. For personal use, portability and speed is worth more. That is what UMG fails to understand.

UMG is banking on a demand for high-fidelity re-releases of their back catalogs.

The label business models are built upon lack of competition in their market. Once upon a time the only music available came from the established recording industry. They told us what we were going to listen to and in what format.

I liked CDs, I really did, but after a while I ran out of space. I still buy physical CDs from time to time however I never buy CDs for the music itself.

The last physical discs I bought were for the special edition of Coheed and Cambria’s Afterman: Ascension / Descension double album. This package was was sold when Ascension released in September 2012 and Descension was months away (February 2013).

So when the package arrived The Descension disc in the box is completely blank. The purpose of this is that I am meant to burn the 320 high-quality Descension track downloads to it. I still haven’t bothered to do it, however the art book that came with it is priceless.

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