Tuesday, November 24, 2020

How Famous Did You Want To Be?: Live From The Ramada Inn Lounge!


When my first serious band began to go in search gigs in our little corner of the American rust belt, circa 1985, the thought of spending even one evening in a Ramada Inn lounge scared us straight and convinced us that the only way to avoid such a fate was by writing and performing our own material. 

A few short years later, there I was as a solo artist playing "TBA" opening slots for any number of major label acts on the hockey rink circuit.

Glamorous? Sure, but once the stage lights go down, all any high riding rock star who happens to find themselves spending the night in Boise, Idaho can do is head back to the local Ramada Inn, stop off in your room for a bit, and, you guessed it, wander down to the fucking lounge until closing time.

I recognized the irony immediately and fell into a momentary pit of despair as it dawned on me that my highly ambitious and costly quest for fame and fortune beyond my wildest dreams had led me back to the one place I was trying to avoid most of all.

It was in many a dark lounge, however, that I enjoyed numerous heart-to-heart conversations with rock stars both big and small, asking as many as I could the question that I always found most interesting:

"How famous did you want to be?"

On one occasion, there was a guitarist for a band that I very much liked as a kid whose hard exterior had made connecting with him after shows near-impossible. One night, though, with everyone sloshed and feeling no pain, I hit him with the question and he didn't stop talking until sun up.

It is the one question that no musician seems fully prepared to answer without first having to swirl it around in their minds for a little while.

The obvious reply is to state that you simply wanted nothing more than to be bigger than the Beatles as a kid, but as you commit more and more of yourself to this crazy dream, some of us revise our answers while others never seem to revisit the subject ever again, yet, in hindsight, there is no greater question a musician can ask themselves first thing every morning.

Especially if waking up to a fistful of phone numbers scrawled on Ramada Inn drink napkins.

So, how famous did I want to be?

As hilarious as it sounds, I was always shooting for a level of fame no higher than, say, the Hooters or the Outfield. You know, a couple nice radio hits to keep the royalty checks rolling in long after that first blast of MTV fame recedes. 

Truth be told, all I ever wanted was just a taste of the rare air and, lets face it, when was the last time Rob Hyman had to worry about being accosted by fans everywhere he went? 

Meanwhile, two decades after her last big hit, Madonna still needs a security team to run out and grab a gallon of milk at the corner store.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Soundcheck: Where The Real Performance Takes Place!

You can tell a lot about a band by the way they soundcheck.

While others pay good money to marvel at the finished product, some of us get endless kicks out of watching true artists conduct themselves in those moments before the stage lights go up and how a concrete lump of clay (your average sports arena) can be molded into a mind-blowing audio-visual experience for every single person in that arena, nosebleed section included.

Of course, soundchecks differ greatly depending on the level of venue and/or band.

Take your average fledgling middle-of-the-bill indie singer-songwriter who is backed by an ever-changing rag-tag team of nitwits and hired guns who approach their brief soundcheck as an opportunity to run through the one song everyone completely fucked up during the one and only rehearsal for this particular show because each member is juggling a minimum of four other bands. 

Your more stable line-ups are smart enough to have their shit down cold, musically, but scarred enough by past nightmare gigs to all but take matters into their own hands to ensure their stage monitor levels are dead on the fucking money. 

Once you reach the level of, say, a Schuba's or Metro, you're probably also finding your way onto the occasional concert stage from time to time, which is where soundchecks become an altogether different beast.

The first time a baby band soundchecks in an arena can be a little intimidating, but highly entertaining for who keep their eyes on the drummer, for whom that first arena soundcheck can be a near-orgasmic experience. 



After having mics thrust into air holes that had never been mic'ed before, the sound guy will invariably ask the drummer to give him some kick drum. Seconds later, the kick drum that has gone mostly unnoticed during years of sweaty basement rehearsals is suddenly transformed into a deep and thunderous beast.  

That's when the drummer's entire demeanor changes and they begin viewing themselves through the audience's eyes. Thankfully, soundcheck ends before the newly emboldened drummer can unleash yet another tom-heavy ode to "In The Air Tonight".

At that point, all the openers can do now is watch how the headliners carry themselves as they arrive at the venue in a fleet of stretch limos.

That's when it becomes gloriously obvious that one of the many fringe benefits of being an arena-level rock star is that you don't have to carry jack-shit.

Also, unlike you and your "Les Paul in a gig bag", the headliners have road cases for

EV

RY

TANG.

Also, each member has their own stage tech and dozens of roadies at their beck and call. 

The more frantically a band's roadies run about the stage with flashlights and gaffer tape in preparation for their band's performance, the more casually and nonchalant that band's members will saunter onstage, one by one, completely oblivious to the apparent coup attempt that their crew successfully thwarted. 

The next thing you'll notice is that guys like Keef, or Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers haven't strapped on their own guitar in at least forty years. That, my friend, is living the dream.

Some say life on the road is glamorous for about a week and then it becomes an endless slog, but, if you happen to find yourself opening an entire tour  for a well-known band - say, 30 or 40 shows - that band's soundcheck will become your daily soap opera.

Not only might you be lucky enough to watch them casually jam out on some of their well-known cuts, but you might even catch Slayer bust into an impromptu "Tush" in shorts and flip flops.


For bands with two or three decades of hits, entire soundchecks are often devoted to songs they would never think of playing live for fear that one of those hits wouldn't be played.

It was widely known for decades that the Stones would go on lengthy blues jams or dive into all sorts of deep cuts during rehearsals for their own amusement and, for those die-hard fans who were as sick of hearing the hits as the band was of playing them, VIP access to a Stones soundcheck became a sort of holy grail.  

The coin flip was whether Mick would soundcheck at all. 

Nothing against Keith as a singer, but if you called in a huge favor to land a "now we're even" VIP pass and Mick was a no-show at soundcheck, but then you hear through the grapevine that the next night's soundcheck at the same venue was a Mick, Keith and Bobby Keys delta blues tour de force, you'd be rightly disappointed.

My biggest thrill was watching bands work up new material during soundcheck over a period of several weeks that you just knew was going to be their next big hit, or, at the very least, the musical high point of their next album.  

For other bands, soundcheck can be a bit of a mixed bag.

Take your average '80s new wave act caught in a seemingly endless tsunami of nostalgia-themed pleasure cruises. 

Resigned to the fact that nobody gives a flying fuck about their latest album, but thousands will actually plan their vacations around hearing just the one hit from 1982 in a booze cruise, members of The Fixx or Naked Eyes will run through their songs in a manner that is as spiteful as it is detached, with little to no acknowledgment of their fellow bandmates.

Of course, my favorite soundcheck cliche of sorts is the guitarist who has played a million shows with the exact same set-up, yet wander onstage and fiddle endlessly with his dozens and dozen of stomp boxes, as if having never seen or used them before.  

Also, is it federal law that all lead singers have to be the last to show up, whether they play an instrument or not?

The true oddity of the rock world, however, remains the band that is uniformly horrible at soundcheck - to the point that other people are starting to catch eyes with one another as if to say "Can you believe these guys are famous?" yet always manage to pull it all together by showtime. 

One thing is for sure, while the shows themselves might be choreographed and scripted right down to the "Hello Cleveland" after the first song, no two soundchecks are ever the same.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

20 Cool Potential Band Names Taken From Guided By Voices Song Titles!

When my ass is king, there will be an immediate and strictly-enforced five-year moratorium on band names not taken from Robert Pollard/Guided By Voices songs.

Let's face it, as someone who has tried and miserably failed to ever come up with a truly great band name, myself, the music of Robert Pollard may be too much for the mainstream to wrap its tiny, "Housewives of Madison County" brain around. then perhaps Pollard's greatest gift to society (what's left of it, anyway) will be to inject the Top 40 rock charts (what's left of them, anyway) with some fucking style and pizazz.

You don't even have to like Guided By Voices to see the genius of a man who, if we have anything to say about it, will go down in history as a one-man band name generator, so, before you name that next band of yours after your favorite childhood cat, check out these ten cool band names taken from Guided By Voices songs! 

Keep in mind that any one of these is ripe for the taking...you can thank me (and Bob, of course) in the liner notes.

1. Dead Liquor Store

2. Alex & The Omegas

3. The Bone Church

4. Cinnamon Flavored Skulls

5. High Five Hall Of Famers

6. Cul de Sac Kids

7. Angelic Weirdness

8. Look, It's Baseball!

9. Bomb The Bee-Hive

10. Delayed Reaction Brats

If you've read this far and haven't already run to see if the dot com is available on some of these names, then perhaps this next batch will pinken your bottom.

11. The Caterpillar Workforce (better hop on this one before Robyn Hitchcock does)

12. Nightmare Jamboree (the name alone will get you booked at The Hideout, no questions asked) 

13. Cold War Water Sports

14. Laundry and Lasers

15. Temporary Shakedown

16. Cheap Buttons

17. Low Flying Perfection

18. The Candyland Riots

19. Some Drilling Implied 

20. Short On Posters (I mean, back when you could hang posters, this would have been funny to see...on a poster.)

Friday, October 30, 2020

End Of Days: Defending Europe's "The Final Countdown"!


When one thinks about how many times hair metal heavyweights Bon Jovi have been the top-grossing concert act in the United States, yet they've never given us a tune even half as catchy as Europe's "The Final Countdown", it becomes glaringly obvious that we as a people have lost our way.

Don't pretend you don't find yourself singing that song's majestic synthesizer riff long after hearing it at the supermarket, yet, more times than not, the song is treated as a punchline to a joke more and more people think is funny.


Based on that song alone, Europe should be playing stadiums in this country where all they do is riff out on "The Final Countdown" for half an hour, take a fifteen-minute  intermission, and then come back out to play "The Final Countdown" because we haven't waved our Bic lighters apps on our cell phones for a half an hour.

And for an encore, they perform "The Final Countdown" with a full symphony orchestra!

Can you say "eargasm"? I knew you could. 

Next day at school, every kid with ears and/or legs would be wearing their brand new "The FINAL Final Countdown, We Promise IV" tour shirt. Those who don't are socially shunned, and rightfully so. 

Now, you're probably wondering if there are any opening acts at a Europe show. The answer is, thankfully, No. 

Not only do the members of Europe recognize their place in the pantheon of rock & roll, they also don't want to keep us out past our bedtimes on a school night.

This is, after all, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN and it pays to be well-rested.

In reality, the last time I heard anyone but me talking about "The Final Countdown", it was a group of teenage kids making fun of it as it played at concert volume in a Dave & Buster's.

Even as the very synth riff for which the word "elegiac" had been invented drowned out the seductive ring-a-ding-dinging of a thousand arcade machines, I could still barely hear the song over them arguing back-and-forth about which band actually performed the song.

With ever-present cell phones in front of them, they still managed to come up with a frightening range of incorrect guesses, from Billy Squier to Poison to Nelson (!) before deciding as a group that it must have been ... BON JOVI.

I hate to admit it, but those crazy kids did get it half right.

You see, Europe are Sweden's Bon Jovi, driving up sales of hair spray for five decades, while scoring a career run of nine Top 10 albums, eight Top 10 singles, and sold-out stadiums for just as long as Bon Jovi have been doing the same here in the States. 

Over yonder der in Sveden, doh, "The Final Countdown" went to #1", whereas it only got to #18 in the States. Can you believe that nonsense?

Wait, it gets worse. 

Did you also know that "The Final Countdown" wasn't even Europe's biggest U.S. hit?

I won't even tell you which song actually made it to #9 because, hey, why dig up a memory that you've successfully repressed? 

Hint: It wasn't "Carrie" or "Rock The Night", which both went Top 40 in the U.S., which raises the question: "If Europe scored four Top 40 hits in the U.S., two of which went Top 20, why the hell aren't they playing U.S. stadiums to this day?"

I'll tell you why: Because there can only be one Bon Jovi in this country and we already have ours, gosh darn it. Maybe we can work out a trade with Sweden, just for a few years to mix things up a bit. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Good Things Come In Threes: 3 Cool Bands We Discovered During The Pandemic!


Did anybody else go into the pandemic with the mindset of breaking out of their musical comfort zone because, hey, life is short? Easier said than done, though, because, when the future is uncertain, we tend to fall back upon that which harkens back to simpler, safer times.

So, what does "breaking out of my musical comfort zone" entail, you ask? I knew you would.

1. I can't be spending money on music because I'm not so fucking sure where my next tenner is coming from so, since I loathe Spotify for paying their creators less than a penny per play while throwing up their nickers for Joe Rogan to the tune of $100 million dollars. So Youtube it is.

2. Ever listened to an album on Youtube, staring for 40 minutes at a blank screen, or a still of the band's cover art, or worse yet, some overly-ambitious LYRIC VIDEO slapped together by the interns at UniSonyScopeJam Records? Not fun. Plus, fuck the glaringly obvious Pro Tools wizardry. Live bands it is!

3. Current bands only, no using this downtime to go back in time. Remember when we fell in love with the Beatles as kids? Yeah, it was 1976 and, when our parents told us they'd broken up years earlier, they may as well have told us there was no Santa. Point being, let's not fall in love with a band that we can't go see live once this pandemic has receded. Much as it may be enjoyable to retrace Genesis's footsteps from theatrical prog visionaries to men who can't dance, knowing full-well that Phil Collins ailing health makes the idea of ever seeing Genesis a no-go. Let's throw our money at a band that still exists and is out there working their asses off. Only bands that still exist it is!

I'm out of gas and my mocha frappe is melting so, with further adieu do do de da da da, here are three bands who've managed to a) keep my interest and b) make me wish my last band had gone the two drummers route. How fun!


1. The(e O(h)Sees

Speaking of bands with two drummers, Jon Dwyer's musical collective have gelled into a super-tight live band with the uncanny ability to make you watch two drummers duke it out for 90 minutes. Watching their interplay is interesting in a variety of ways:

What is the body language saying?

Is the bearded guy doing most of the heavy lifting? Paul (the other guy) looks like he's fighting for his life, but then I see an old video of when he was the band's sole drummer and the motherfucker was a machine. He must hae a resting heart rate of twelve. I lose five pounds just by watching him.

As for Dwyer, he sure does like that microphone. Mind you, in the pandemic age, watching old footage of him swallowing the mic might set off one's puke mechanism, Christ, I hope that's not a house mic.

If you're at all curious where the bass fits in, check the clip above.


2. The Viagra Boys

If you're wondering why it took us so long to give these newly hipster-approved Swedes a listen, consider for a moment that the name is so bad, we're lucky we ever "discovered" them at all. Ugh. But, hey, The Hives was an awful name, too and those guys are STILL on our to-do list.

The fact that the first single of theirs was called "Sports", combined with the fact that the thumbnail accompanying said video on YouTube was of a shirtless guy with to sleeves and a chest full of tats standing in the middle of an active tennis game appealed to us that that moment.

Needless to say, we weren't disappointed. The song isn't much, but the visual comedy skills of the singer was more than enough for me to watch the next video, "Research Chemicals". Guy plays the same character, detached from the reality that takes place around him. There's an almost Andy Kaufman-esque flair to the way Seb Murphy plays the stereotypical junkie singer, so am I being put-on here? Is this some Flight Of The Conchords thing? Do they have their own show on Apple TV+ already?

So I typed "viagra boys live" into the YouTube search engine while rolling my eyes, knowing full well that if I'd typed this into Google, the ads they'd have picked out for me from that point on woul make it nigh impossible to keep an office job.

As I gazed at the search results, I did something that I never do and clicked on the video at the top of the list . Any other time, if there's a reasonable amount to choose from, I like to grab something from aa little further down.

I figured I'd last five minutes. Instead, I'm on my twentieth viewing.

3. The Claypool-Lennon Delirium

Hey, when I say that I'm going to leave my musical comfort zone, I fucking mean it. Not only was I decidedly anti-Primus during their MTV heyday, I'm probably not alone in thinking Sean Lennon inherited most of his musical talent from Yoko, so what made me tune in at all, you ask?

Fair enough. As it turns out, I noticed quite gradually that Les Claypool had morphed into a very distinguished gentleman. More accurately, he and his visual stylist had crafted such an interesting look for this older musician that I decided to see what Primus actually sounded like some twenty years or so since I'd last given them even a passing thought.

Long story short, I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole, devoured ten years of Primus live concerts in a single night, and came to the conclusion that they weren't awful.

About a month later, I saw the words "Claypool" and "Lennon" right next to each other and proceeded to put the words "What", "The", "Actual" and "Fuck" next to one another at considerable volume.

<MOTHERFUCKING CLICK> went my mouse finger.

Within two or three songs, I was hooked. I'm pretty sure that I've seen every show this band has played, from fan-shot TikToks to five-camera, pro shot performances with some of the most pristine audio to come out my Yamaha HS-8's.

Musically, yeah, they're alright, but what keeps my mind engaged (which is what it's truly all about) is my desire to know just why Les Claypool would be involved in such a project?

Much like the family and friends who constantly talk about the ego trips and power battles taking place on their favorite reality shows, I get my fix of the human dynamic by soaking up the visual nuances, from the stage clothing to the choice of instrumentation, paying careful attention to the body language between musicians.

Those of us "in the biz" can't help but dissect onstage interactions between bandmates to decipher who's driving the ship and who's just a hired gun along for the ride. Maybe the interplay between Les and Lennon will help solve the riddle as to what either one is truly getting out of this whole endeavor.

Can John Lennon's youngest son prove to us that he didn't just throw so much of his dad's money
at Les that he had to at least give it the ol' college try.

Don't pretend that you weren't thinking the same thing, all I did was type it out-loud.

Maybe the whole time Mr. Pork Soda was setting up his rig, his most evil inner voice was reading him the riot act. After an hour or so of watching Lennon like a hawk, Claypool must've arrived at the conclusion that beneath Lennon's inherited wealth and recognition was a kid who just wanted to express himself musically, but, unlike every other musician on the planet, everything this kid does will be immediately and forever be judged against his father's best work. 

Can you imagine that?


Friday, October 23, 2020

The $64,000 Question: When Is The Dream Over?


From the moment I first picked up an instrument in high school and decided that rock & roll was going to be my life, my social life immediately began to suffer. Friends with whom I had spent countless days, months and years playing sports or talking about girls were the first to notice my sudden unavailability after school.

Within weeks, they had developed new friends, eventually no longer thinking to ask if I might have wanted to join them on their trips to the mall, movies, or concerts and I still sucked at playing drums, yet I persisted, knowing that the trade-off for becoming a decent drummer might be that my ability to relate to my fellow teenage high school knuckleheads might suffer.

Even though I was aware of this trade-off and made my decision willingly, little did I know just how much I would lose my ability to relate to "the real world" once I became part of "the entertainment industry".

You see, the fact that this "rock & roll thing" had absolutely nothing to do with the real world was a large part of my reasoning for choosing that particular path in the first place. It was a decision that was made, quite frankly, not too long after my parents informed me in no uncertain terms that I'd be turning 18 soon and, therefore, would be an adult soon.

In other words, according to my very traditional parents, it was time for their oldest kid (me!) to become an adult and join the gruesome work-a-day world.

As you can probably imagine, I was not thrilled.

After all, my parents hadn't exactly made being an adult look like any fucking fun at all, what with all the moving from one town to another for some soul-sucking Sears & Roebuck manager gig. When he wasn't off "making some bacon", the one image I have of my father is of him walking in the door, kissing my mother, and then promptly collapsing in a heap on the couch from total exhaustion and being dead to the world for much of the rest of the evening.

If that was adulthood, I wanted no part of it, yet there he was letting me know that the time had come for me to be as miserable as him.

That's when I informed him in no uncertain terms that if he thought I was going to stumble down that very same path, he had another thing coming. 

No, music was my bag and my only goal in life was to be a working musician and recording artist.

The look on his face when those words entered his ear holes was one of complete dismay, as if trying to understand someone speaking to him in a foreign tongue and deciding that they must just be an idiot for not speaking English, like him.

I don't think we ever saw eye-to-eye about anything from that day until his death, some twenty years later at the age of 59.

If anything, his early demise only instilled in me a desire to cram as much fun as possible into one lifetime as I possibly could because there were no guarantees that any of us might live long enough to enjoy retirement.

Thing is, by that time, the wheels had already come off what remained of my rock & roll dream, which, by the ripe old age of 37, consisted mostly of rowdy bar gigs and dealing with sketchy weasels at all levels of the industry. The major label deal I had sought for so long had come and gone with jack-shit to show for it and I could no longer even remember what I'd spent the $150k in combined advances on.

My fellow musicians would laugh when I said such things and tell me that part of not knowing where all the money went meant that I must be doing something right, HAR HAR, and I believed them for a good long time. But then one day I realized that the stunning, and admittedly bat-shit crazy, rocker babes I had been attracting since my very first Chicago club gigs had disappeared and all that remained were the crazy ones.

The worst part was that I looked every single minute of my 37 years on this planet and yet I was still convinced that my life and career was progressing just fine. Also, by remaining in L.A., I could continue to bullshit myself that I was nowhere near as bad as a lot of folks in that town who had actually tasted fame and were still desperately seeking another dose, even as Father Time landed one knockout punch after another.

Hilariously, it would take moving back to my favorite city (Chicago), putting together the absolute
best version of my band (with Ted & Mike from Material Issue), and attempting to re-establish myself on the Chitown rock scene for me to realize that this wasn't a career, it was a fucking rut.

Even now, some ten years after that realization, I still find the pull of potential fame and fortune to be the drug I can never completely kick and that even casually strumming a guitar or busting out my favorite synth soon has me noodling on a new song that I immediately begin thinking could be "the one".

I've heard kicking heroin is tough, if not near-impossible, but it has nothing on the teenage dream of fame and fortune that lives inside most musicians. Just when you think you've kicked it once and for all, gotten your life back together, and rebuilt all those bridges you once burned, a buddy asks you to fill in for his drummer for a few gigs or help them cut some new tunes in the studio...you know, what others might call "harmless fun"...and the next thing you know, you're rocking out to a packed house and dreaming of turning in your two-weeks notice at work, leaving a loving spouse behind to hold down the fort while you hop aboard some fucking pirate ship with a bunch of lunatics.

When is the dream over, you ask?

Never.

For better, but mostly worse, rock & roll is a young man's game; a life sentence that never ends well for those who give their heart to it, but, if I may interject, getting there is never, ever boring.



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Friendly Reminder From Someone Who Cares: Stop Giving Your Music Away For Free!

Does anybody else remember those halcyon days when, as a musical artist or band, you could make enough cash from mp3.com downloads to MAKE A LIVING MAKING MUSIC?

I know that I'll never forget those days because they helped keep my boat afloat at a time when labels transitioned almost overnight from signing "challenging alternative artists who wrote and performed their own material" to doe-eyed bobbleheads like Britney Spears and the Spice Girls.

As a result, not only did the label interest I had been courting for the past couple years suddenly evaporate, but so did much of the money I'd been making from CD sales.

Thankfully, interest in my music on mp3.com led me to get an overdraft notice from my bank one day and notification that a direct deposit in the amount of $4,000 had just hit my account.

As you can imagine, this immediately changed the way I viewed digital downloads and the effectiveness of such a site as mp3.com.  


Granted, the pioneering music website's business model left a lot to be desired, but they did manage to do what few sites have done before or since: PUT THE ARTISTS FIRST! By doing so, of course, the site earned the furious scorn of an industry that would rather sue the future into oblivion than embrace an idea that they, themselves, did not formulate.

You see, even though the internet had become part of the global consciousness by the late '90s, the music industry was still in complete denial of the oncoming train heading straight in its direction. Convinced that they could merely litigate it and all other music sites out of existence, the major labels would then be completely broadsided by Napster a few years later, proving that the people now had the power when it came to the sharing of music over the web.

Fast forward to the year 2020 and we now see that the very same major labels who saw Napster as a threat to their very existence at the turn of the century have now gotten into bed with the likes of Napster co-founder Sean Parker, who now represents Spotify's interests.

What changed the minds of the likes of Jimmy Iovine and Irving Azoff, among others, you ask?

Plain and simple, money.

In order to gain access to the vaults of every major label, Spotify gifted shares of their company to the likes of Sony, Interscope, and others to get them to "play ball" and, as a result, labels now derive a majority of their annual income from this arrangement.

Mind you, it is nowhere near the billions upon billions they used to rake in from CD sales, but
once the labels found out that the artists would be making little to nothing from this Y2K union of snakes and cockroaches, the major labels couldn't sign fast enough.

Meanwhile, those music fans who UNDERSTAND THAT ARTISTS NEED MONEY TO MAKE MUSIC have led a resurgence of both vinyl and cassette sales in recent years.

While that is great news to those of us who still value the experience of immersing ourselves in both the visual as well as the aural experience of a physical release, the fat cats at UniSonyScope records are laughing their way to the stogie store over the fact that 60% of their yearly revenue stems from subscriptions to the streaming services, while only 4% comes from sales of physical product.

See, once you no longer have to pay artists, you'd be amazed at how far $11 billion will get you, as opposed to the $15 billion the industry was raking in as recently as 1998 when 4 billion went towards royalties and other contractual payouts to artists.

When I am reminded of the two-year period between 1998 and 2000, when I was regularly making between $2,000-$4,000 via the site, it is STUNNING to see fellow artists paying a site like CD Baby or Distro Kid up to $69 per project to make their music available for streaming, knowing full-well that they won't come anywhere near recouping that small amount, much less recording costs.

While most musicians these days are too young to have ever known the exhilaration that comes from making a living from the sale of their music, that does NOT give the labels and streaming services the right to continue profiting from the hard work and boundless creativity of the most important content creators on this planet: Music artists.

If you agree, all I ask is that you consider defending your art the same way you'd protect a large stack of $20 bills that represents your living expenses. Just because the entities now attempting to steal those twenties also have the ability to SIGN YOUR BAND does NOT make them any less worthy of scorn and derision for this current system of digital theft that they have concocted.

What can you, the artist, do to defend yourself against those who want you to sing and dance for fractions of a penny per stream?

1. Avoid giving away your music at all costs, and, yes, placing your music on Spotify IS the digital equivalent of sending a free CD of your music to anyone who wants one. 

2. Work only with sites that allow you to control pricing for your music, such as Bandcamp.com, which also allows you to control the level of free streaming before a listener must make a purchase. Note: If the thought of holding your own music ransom (until someone who has listened to the same song three times finally reaches for their wallet) seems unthinkable in this day and age, well, you need to get over that in a hurry or the next income you'll see is when you sell all your music gear to make rent.