After I agreed, I thought to myself, how the hell do I put down what I think of 2016 plus what’s ahead in 2017 in a couple sentences? Those who know me, know that’s about as likely as Axl Rose joining AC/DC. Wait, that happened in 2016 too – man this could get long.
For starters, 2016 was very, very good to the Apocalyptic Lovers. Love And War reformed as the Apocalyptic Lovers after 20 some years and put out an 8-song record with over 45 minutes of music mixed by the legendary producer, Michael Wagener. Reviews have been great and we recently appeared in the international rock magazine, Fireworks (issue #77). We are also on many “TOP OF 2016” countdown lists for writers and DJs, so it’s been just fantastic.
Looking ahead to 2017? Stay tuned for news on a label, new record, more shows, and our continued search for great management. There are two major things on my mind as 2016 comes to an end with 2017 just a few days away… First, we have lost so much talent in the entertainment industry over the past year. All of them have left a mark on me and many others in this business. Musicians, producers, and one very important actress may not be with us, but they are not truly gone – they just had a “Change of Frequency”. Bowie, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Glen Frey (Eagles), Greg Lake (ELP), Jimmy Bain (Dio), Keith Emerson (ELP), Lemmy, Leonard Haze (Y&T), Maurice White (E,W&F), Nick Menza (Megadeth), Nik Green (Blue Murder), Paul Kanter (Jefferson Airplane), Pete Burns (Dead or Alive), Prince, Sandy Pearlman, Sir George Martin and Vanity all passed away. They will be missed, but their art will live on.
Secondly, I wonder what we have done to the music industry and how in the hell are we as FANS and musicians going to fix it? There has always been the issue of piracy. Who hasn’t bought blank tapes or burned CDs of new tunes they loved so much? I’m guilty of it and I’m very sure anyone who reads this is too. The problem is, we (fans and artists/bands) have hit an all time low. The lack of fans actually purchasing full albums or singles while instead using monthly streaming services is killing us (musicians/bands). I have never in my lifetime seen more musicians working day jobs. Revenue streams for new and major recording artists are just not there anymore. Have you noticed how many major acts that should probably be retired from touring are all back out there? It’s not just for the love of the music, but because their royalty checks have become so small they need the touring money. My God, Joe fricking Perry dropped on stage performing live with the Hollywood Vampires a few months back. Joe looks great, but he is pushing 70 years old.
Another example I often use is Lady Ga Ga’s royalty check from Spotify. I read an article that warned everyone that streaming could kill off all new music and devastate revenue for once established bands. Many new bands and major recording artists use the same form of distribution these days, especially regarding digital distribution. Artists receive quarterly reports and payments from streaming services like Spotify and I can vouch that the numbers you are hearing about are true and are basically theft. Ga Ga has around 125 million streams of her albums and individual songs via Spotify, and her management company was presented a check from Spotify for no more than several hundred dollars. How can that be fair?
I still buy vinyl and once in a while some CDs, but the most convenient way to listen to music is on your phone these days. I have no problem with MP3s for the purpose of condensing space. I have no problem with purchasing and downloading full albums and/or singles (those royalties could also use some improvement). The main problem is the way artists and bands are being compensated by these streaming services and honestly, the easy fix is to stop using them for now.
I’m not saying to never stream again, but fans and musicians need to stop and force these money hungry companies to take note that they are stealing from these bands.
I believe streaming was meant for good and it is fun to discover new music that way too, but the model is broken and needs to be fixed. If fans would stop streaming for a month or up to 6 months and musicians/bands did not post any new music on these sites and pulled down their old tunes, companies like Spotify would have to listen.
If we can have these successful National Record Store days in the States, why couldn’t we start small and have National Black-Out Monthly Streaming Services day? Something tells me we would need a shorter and cooler name for marketing purposes.
As we head into 2017, please think of the bands, solo artists, roadies, techs (sound and lighting), producers, and all the other humans with families that you are taking money from by streaming and just STOP for now. I don’t think anyone has found the golden nugget to fix this and it’s about damn time that we all pulled together before its too late.
Bands and major touring artists will disappear. Who out there will be the next Stones, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi? Artists that play, write, and record all their own stuff without autotune and all the Justin Bieber and Kanye bells and whistles?
As I head into 2017, this is a major concern on my mind because it affects so many lives that the casual fan never thinks of. How do we fix it? I have no idea, but there is no better time than now.
Thanks for hearing me out! Now go to www.apocalypticlovers.com and check out our band with the vintage arena rock sound you grew up loving and partying to.
Cheers and Happy New Year!
David Hope (Drummer)