Improve Your Acoustic Guitar Songwriting Technique...

Newton Faulkner presents his 8 tips to help you keep creating music and improving your skills...

There have been few acoustic players in the last decade that have combined chart success and jaw-dropping technique as successfully as Newton Faulkner.

His unique take on the percussive acoustic style has formed the foundation for four top ten albums (most recently 2013’s Studio Zoo) and inspired a raft of new generation players.

Here are eight tips from the man himself on building your technique, snatching songwriting inspiration and, err, the importance of manicures…

Tip #1). Push yourself
Mastering a tricky track by a different guitarist can improve your technique, but you can also develop by challenging yourself within your own writing.

“I don’t have that much time to learn other people’s stuff, but when I’m writing I write stuff that I can’t play, which kind of satisfies that bit of my brain. The bit of my brain that wants to push itself further and further is getting the opportunity to do that without having to learn other people’s songs… I purposely attack weak areas of my technique so that I have to work on them to play perfectly live.”

Tip #2). Everything's an Instrument
Newton may be best known for his unusual ‘percussive acoustic’ style, but he wouldn’t have got there without thinking outside of that particular wooden box.

“My playing style is predominantly acoustic, but there’s electronic stuff as well because I’m definitely not a purist. Everything’s an instrument if it makes a noise. It’s all about what you can do with something and what you can get out of it, which is how I compose stuff. If it sounds good, I’ll boldly do it!”

Tip #3). Don't Procrastinate
Songs come in all shapes and forms and from all sources. For Newton, a short deadline and, ideally, a loud stage help kick-start his creative faculties.

“I write better in really short spaces of time. If someone said, ‘You’ve got a week and all we want you to do is sit at home and write a couple of songs’, that would be my worst nightmare. I’d just sit at home all week and come out of it with nothing. It’s the way my mind works.

“Soundcheck is brilliant because it’s so instant - as soon as you play anything it sounds exactly the same as all your other stuff because it’s loud, it’s at a venue and you can hear what it’s gonna be like when it gets to that stage. I’ve written a lot of stuff when I’m plugged in and messing around.”

Tip #4). Assert Yourself
The advice of others can be valuable, but if it’s not producing the result you want, don’t be afraid to pipe-up!

“With my first album [2007’s Hand Built By Robots], I felt as though I was out of my depth and production-wise I wasn’t that involved. I mean, I would say stuff but if no-one was overly enthusiastic then I’d say, ‘OK, that’s cool’ and leave it at that. I felt as though I shouldn’t be telling people who have been doing their jobs for years what to do.

“But on [follow-up, 2009’s] Rebuilt By Humans I was like, ‘No! We’re not doing that, we’re doing this! This will be fun!’ Luckily, the guy I was working with, Mike Spencer [Jamiroquai, Kylie], really got my ridiculous ideas.”

Tip #5). Experiment with Tunings
You don’t become a boundary-breaking string-wrangler like Newton without a bit of experimentation. Alternate tunings are one of the easiest ways to spark creativity. Get twiddling to find your favourite….

“My ‘standard’ tuning is basically DADGAD but changed slightly to DGDGAD, so the A [fifth string] has gone down a tone. I like the amount of octaves you get to play within that… [I invent tunings as I write] - I hear stuff in my head and then work it out on guitar, and a lot of the time I write things that I can’t actually play.”

Tip #6). Write with Others (or, errr, don't)
If you’ve hit a dry patch in your writing or playing, try roping in a partner. A temporary collaboration can quickly send you in a new direction and help expand your technique arsenal.

“If I write on my own it’s an incredibly slow process - there are tracks on Rebuilt By Humans that I was writing before Hand Built By Robots. I’m really slow on my own because I get very meticulous and each song has to be perfect, but if I’m writing with somebody else and they like it and I like it, it’s done. [That said], the stuff I write on my own is really satisfying.”

Tip #7). Turn Adversity to Advantage
Whether it’s playing a nightmare show, getting your gear nicked or personal injury, we all suffer set-backs. For Newton’s part, a broken wrist resulted in an improved fretting ability.

“[In 2008] I slipped on ice and landed badly, dislocating my hand and fracturing my wrist. There’s a huge metal plate in there now, but I think the accident improved my technique. I think my general articulation in my other hand got much stronger because I’d sit there for hours with the one hand and practise, just doing hammer-ons really violently. I’ve got to the point where if I strum and then hammer-on, it’s pretty much the same volume.”

Tip #8). Hit the Nail Bar
Strong nails are central to fingerpickers’ tone so Newton heads to his local nail bar and has acrylic nails fitted.

“The attack with acrylic nails is much more immediate,” he says. “It’s like playing with four picks!”

If you don’t want to brave a nail bar, other methods to consider are: fingerpicks (good for strong tone and projection); lacquer (cheap but not as strengthening); and even pin pong balls cut and glued under your nail (but be warned, the plastic can react with glue and turn green!) all improve your articulation, tone and volume dramatically.

4 Reasons Why Music Careers Are Getting Trounced By Tech...

Courtesy Bobby Owsinski - Forbes Entertainment Online

“Why Just Making a Living as a Musician... is the New Success.”

It used to be that if our best and brightest had any affinity for music at all, they would go to great ends to enter the business, with a long-term vision in mind.

Not so today, as music careers are getting trounced by the tech industry when it comes to making money, having job choice and just plain old job availability, and there’s no end to this movement in sight.

Where music was once seen by many as one of the highest callings possible, that perception seemed to die with the 90’s even as the music business hit its peak. It’s been all downhill since as the brain drain and lack of incoming talent has only helped to accelerate the industry’s fall to where it is today at about half its all-time high revenue.

So how could this happen? How could a business that was once the centerpiece of so many people’s dreams suddenly become as tarnished as a piece of neglected silverware? If you take a step back and look at the problem from a macro perspective, there seems to be four primary reasons.

1. There’s no glamor in music anymore. Once upon a time it was considered cool to hang out with musicians in general, and even cooler to hang with rock stars if the opportunity presented itself. Musicians held center stage in the entertainment universe, as they were always in the news and in the middle of the conversation on every college campus.

Today, music is a seldom featured asterisk to most people’s daily lives. It no longer has the cultural significance that it once had, rarely influences fashion or lifestyle, and has increasingly lost its cool factor, at least to the same degree that it once had.

Tech, on the other hand, is everything that music today is not. It regularly influences fashion and lifestyle, and it’s executives act like the execs of the music business of the 70s and 80s did, playing it (for better or worse) generally loose and free. Ironically most music execs these days now act more like the corporate suits that they tried so hard to avoid in years past.

2. You can make more money in tech. It used to be that just about anyone could at least make a living in the music business, even on the level of a band finding enough work playing in clubs to at least survive. Music was everywhere and consumers still wanted more. The possibility of making a big score that could be more rewarding than many could ever dream was always there, which was like a carrot to a horse. If you kept on pushing, it was possible that you could get a chance to snatch the golden ring that could take care of you and your family for generations.

Today those dreams have been just about completely dashed. There’s still a lot of money being made in the recorded music business as a whole (if you take touring, merchandise, publishing and licensing into account), and hopefully even more to come as streaming becomes the new paradigm, but more and more that wealth is concentrated with the 1% of successful artists, major record labels, and publishers. It’s still possible to make that big score or even do better than most other relatively common careers, but the odds are getting longer all the time and work required to get there is proving to be more intense. The current saying in the business is that “Making a living is the new success,” and that’s not good enough for most college-educated people looking for a career to pursue.

Tech, on the other hand, provides the possibility of wealth so far beyond what the music business can offer even at its highest levels that it makes all the work that’s required to be successful in that realm seem hardly worth the effort. Sure the odds are extremely long that your startup might be purchased by Google , Apple or some other deep pocket corporation, but you can at least see how that could be possible when there are examples in the news day after day.

Music, not so much any more. In many people’s eyes, if winning a television talent show (which is another post altogether) only means you’ll stay in the public’s consciousness until the series ends, then what’s the use of having musical talent when some school- or self-learned computer programming skills might get you enough startup stock to retire at a young age?

3. There’s more freedom in tech. There was a point in music were artists had the freedom to create what they wanted, no matter how much it diverged from whatever was popular, and were even encouraged to do so both by the industry and the public. Now if your music doesn’t fit into a convenient box that happens to be popular today, you probably won’t get the traction you need to become successful enough to compete with even the lowest of tech careers. Music homogenization has lead to blunted creativity, even more now than in other eras, while tech offers it in leaps and bounds, which ties in neatly in with the next point.

4. Tech is more creative. If you want to be rewarded for thinking outside the box, join the tech industry. If you want to be penalized for it, then the music business is for you. The one thing that 18 to 25 year olds have in common with their predecessors is that they like to expand their creativity and actively look for a way to express themselves. When that first job or opportunity comes along, being able to be imaginative and artistic is high on the list of priorities of what they’re looking for, whether they realize it or not. Music used to offer that, and still does to some degree. It’s just that on the highest levels where the majority of the money flows, your options for expression become increasing limited as the industry contracts (there used to be six major record labels, and now there are three, for example).

For better or worse, record labels and publishers are run more like the large corporations that they are these days, which demands more conformity from the troops than ever before. Musicians are still free to create whatever they like, but their chances of making money from that creativity is less likely the more they stray from the latest trend. Sure there are the outliers that occasionally break the mold, but that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it once did.

If this sounds like a derision of the music business, I guess it is, but understand that I’d be the last person to tell someone not to pursue a career in music despite what you read here. If your heart is totally into it and you’re committed to stick it out regardless of the ups and downs and the length of time it might take, most people find a way to at least making a living. More and more opt out after many years of struggling.

That said, you can see how a person that at one time would have considered music as a long term career has bypassed it in favor of tech or finance. While finance is even more restrictive than the music business is at the moment, corporately-speaking, at least the potential rewards are far greater. Tech, on the other hand, provides all the things that used to be so attractive about the music business, like a relaxed atmosphere, flexible working hours and conditions, and workers your own age that you can relate to.

Music is cyclical though, and a total upheaval of the business due to a new trend has occurred many times before. In a flash, music can again offer all the coolness and creativity that it once did in the past, and attract the talent that it so needs to flourish. Let’s hope that such a disruption happens as soon as possible.

VIDEO: Onstage Nightmares interview with Zakk Wylde...

What's the worst onstage guitar failure Zakk Wylde has had to endure? Zakk shares the story of a Marshall amp. malfunction with Ozzy back in 1988 while playing in London England that teaches all guitar players a valuable gear lesson.

Making Money In The Music Industry...

by Ross Gerber , Contributor for Forbes online Entertainment

Last year, Jimmy Kimmel Live sent a crew to Coachella, the two-weekend music festival held in the middle of the Southern California desert, to ask attendees their opinions about various bands that would ostensibly be playing during the event.

One after another, interviewees appeared on camera to say that they knew about the bands in question, enjoyed their work and were really looking forward to seeing them perform live. A few even said they had already done so.

There was one problem: The bands didn’t exist... 

Kimmel and his team had made them up. The segment was ingenious and uproariously funny, playing upon a common impulse among many music fans to demonstrate that they have seen or heard a great underground band that no one else has.

Jimmy Kimmel's "Lie Witness News" at Coachella...

At the same time, though, it spoke to a larger truth about the music industry, underscoring the extent to which it has changed in recent years. In the past, the formula for success for every band, even pedestrian ones, was pretty simple: release an album, play it on the radio over and over again, sell millions of copies and then stage a tour during the summer, playing in front of sold out crowds every night.

Today, that would be a tall task for even the most successful bands. What has changed? Download services and online streaming sites that allow people to listen to whatever they want virtually whenever and wherever they want. Indeed, anyone with a smart phone has access to free music, and if we buy music, it’s invariably songs on an a la carte basis, not full albums.

As a result, consumers are not purchasing and stockpiling music like they used to, even as their tastes have become more variable and broader. This is reflected in the growing number of music festivals each year featuring multiple acts representing genres across the spectrum, including Coachella, Austin City Limits and Bonaroo.

...While free music and more variety is good for the average music fan, these developments are profoundly troubling for the bands themselves... 

As listener appetites become more diffuse and festivals become bigger and more numerous, bands have less power than ever before – which is somewhat ironic given that content creators in other industries like television and movies are increasingly gaining the upper hand. 

That’s not to say there aren’t a relatively small number of artists who are capable of operating within the old business model, dishing out a series of hits and packing stadiums across the country. Virtually everyone else is at the mercy of music producers and concert promoters, which in today’s environment have nearly all the pricing power.

So what does this all mean for the average retail investor and how can you directly take advantage of this shift?

Live Nation Entertainment: Born out of a merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster, Live Nation Entertainment is the nation’s largest ticket broker and has a vested interest in over 100 prominent concert venues across the country, including The Gorge Amphitheatre (George, Washington) and Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Irvine, California). More importantly, it partnered with Yahoo this month to stream concerts live, tapping even further into to the shift in consumer sentiment toward experiencing live events rather than listening to recorded songs from an album. Live Nation is in a great position as concerts become more profitable and bands have less pricing power and need to participate in the big festivals.

Apple : It’s not a stretch to say that one of the seminal moments in the history of music was the day Apple launched iTunes. As alluded to above, it killed albums sales and transformed the way an entire generation consumed music, not to mention the generations that will follow.

While Apple's iTunes service clout has been diminished by streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, Apple’s recent agreement to purchase Beats not only will add to its list of attractive hardware offerings (high-end headphones) but also bolsters its online streaming capabilities, an important step as downloads continue to fall across the industry. Apple makes much of the hardware we use to consume music but they also have a huge library of songs for purchasing or streaming. Apple is also promoting its own concerts and content. Expect a lot more interesting things from Apple with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre on the payroll.

Soundcloud: Created as a way for indie musicians to share music and build audiences, Soundcloud has grown to be a formidable force in music with over 250 million monthly users. Even though it is still a private company, it boasts a reported $700 million valuation. Look for this company to be acquired by a major technology or music company. Soundcloud is a great place to enjoy and discover new music and artists. It has global reach and has built a huge, engaged music community. The best part is that the music is free. This is the future of music where recorded music is losing its economic value while building an audience has become paramount for success. Give away the music and the fans will pay for live shows, a la Grateful Dead.

Sirius XM Holdings Inc.: Over 25 million people pay Sirius for satellite radio, which has its similarities to streaming. Sirius became big from the days when Howard Stern was popular and came to Sirius from traditional radio, foreshadowing the demise of radio. Sirius is still a standard offering in most cars but there is more competition now from Pandora and Spotify. What the other players don’t have is unique, exclusive content. Sirius has worked hard not to be another music company that just offers music content in an algorithm.

The big issue today is content curation, which is having someone pick and introduce you to new music. Sirius has a deep bench of DJ’s and a huge variety of content choices including exclusive artist content, shows and interviews, all without commercials. Even with all the competition, Sirius still has the best content of them all. Sirius is here to stay even though they have to work harder for every listener. Between Sirius, Apple and Soundcloud you have the world of music at your fingertips.

Given the way download services and online streaming sites have effectively neutered the earning power of most bands, the music industry’s business model of the past has been put to the grave. As technology evolves and summer festivals become even more ubiquitous, the obstacles toward achieving true financial independence from music producers and concert promoters will only increase.

Still, all of this doesn’t mean that investors looking for opportunities in the music industry need to suffer the same fate.

...There’s money to be made. But unfortunately for most bands, the money won’t be for any of them...

Ross Gerber is CEO and president of Santa Monica, Calif-based Gerber Kawasaki, an independent investment advisory and wealth management firm with approximately $280 million in assets under advisement. Gerber Kawasaki clients and employees may own positions in various companies mentioned here.

VIDEO: Tom Petty on Hip-Hop, EDM and Plastic Computer Music...

Tom Petty has hit out at EDM, (Electronic dance music), claiming that the entire genre is a joke and is essentially nothing without drugs... "Paying money to watch people playing records while doing designer drugs is just plain stupid."

"Watch people play records?" he says in an interview with USA Today. "That's stupid. You couldn't pay me to go. I'm not oversimplifying it. That's what's going on. I don't think it would be any fun without the drugs. It's a drug party."

The singer also spoke of his dislike of MP3s and his approval of the resurgence of vinyl:

"I hate MP3s," he says. "You hear exactly 5% of the record I made. And I don't think most people know the difference. They're being shortchanged. The CD is not as good as it can be, but it's 100 times better than an MP3. The good thing is vinyl is coming back."

Asked about Neil Young's proposed high res music service, Pono, Petty had the following to say:

"Neil took me for a ride in his car and played it for me," Petty says. "It's stunning. It's up to the quality of what we hear in the studio. Once that's available, the battle's over. It's like 240 times the resolution."

BREAKING: Ford and General Motors Being Sued for Unpaid Music Royalties by the AARC...

Ford and General Motors are the Unusual Defendants in an Unpaid Music Royalties Lawsuit from the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies...

Normally when you hear the terms "unpaid royalties" and "music" in the same sentence, you assume it must be another beef between music publishers and streaming services. This week however, it's a battle between two of the world's largest automotive companies and the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies. The latter is suing both General Motors and the Ford company for unpaid music royalties resulting from digital duplication.

"Say what?" say you. Indeed, there's a good chance that the new vehicle you bought from either of the automotive giants has the capability for digital duplication, a term used to describe the transfer of copyrighted material to blank CD's and other formats. 

Many new vehicles feature the ability to store music from a CD to a small hard drive for later listening, much like how iTunes can save compressed audio files from the discs you place in your computer.

Under the Audio Home Recording Act, producers of blank CD's and any product designed with the purpose of storing music must pay a statutory royalty rate to cover the due royalties of theoretically transferring copyrighted material.

The AARC's lawsuit also includes Clarion and Denso—the tech companies that provide the technology to both Ford and GM—and technically the brunt of the allegations should fall on those companies for not paying the statutory royalties for their products.

Although that cost should have been carried over to buyers Ford and GM, the AARC are suggesting that the automotive superpowers were actually working in cahoots with Clarion and Denso. 

It's tough to blame the AARC for targeting the two carmakers: Those two have money that the audio companies just don't have. And the AARC is looking to milk quite a bit from the lawsuit: up to $2,500 per device for the last three years of production, all the royalties that should have been paid plus 50 percent and attorneys' fees.

Both companies produce approx. 4 Million vehicles every year, so the fees being sought by the AARC in the lawsuit could total more than $30 Billion dollars!

In addition, the association is looking to have an injunction filed against the four defendant companies for the sale and distribution of the named devices.

10 rock 'n' roll brainiacs...

Admittedly, drinking so much your pancreas pops hardly smacks of genius. But in the post-millennium, the GN’R man studied business and economics at Seattle University, and proved so capable he was able to start his own wealth management firm and write a regular 'Duffonomics' column in Playboy. 

As an undergraduate at London’s University College, Martin wasn’t big on sex and drugs (he clung to his virginity until the age of 22). Instead, Mr Coldplay got his head down, emerging with an impressive First in Greek and Latin.

Don’t be fooled by the skate-punk cretin act. The Offspring’s frontman scored a degree in molecular biology before the band took off, is currently a doctoral student at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research, and has recently published a paper on microRNA in HIV genomes. We’re so thick, we admit that we don’t even know what that means.

Weirdly, Weezer were already one hit album out of the blocks when the singer decided he fancied an elite Ivy League education. “I applied to Harvard a few months after our first record came out,” Cuomo told Spin. “I already realised I was going to get really bored and depressed on the road.”

The tack-sharp innovator created the basis for Gibson’s first solidbody electric, pioneered multitracking and designed the echo chambers at LA’s Capitol Studios. That’s compared to you, who can’t even wire the plug on the toaster.

Smarter than a brain pie, Scholz aced high school and scored Bachelor Of Science and Master’s Degrees in mechanical engineering at the MIT before building the studio on which Boston recorded their squillion-selling debut. Spod.

He majored in English at Columbia University, and you can kinda tell, with Vampire Weekend’s lyric sheets hinging on smart-arsed literary references and words we have to look up in the dictionary. Koenig even wrote a song about a punctuation mark, for God’s sake (Oxford Comma).

When the wheels fell off The Velvet Underground in 1971, the guitarist went back to college, earning a doctorate in Medieval Studies from the University of Texas. His dissertation was on the work of Anglo-Saxon poet, Cynewulf.

Morello graduated from Harvard with a BA in Social Studies and briefly looked set for a go-getting political career as the scheduling secretary of senator Alan Cranston. “Most of that time was spent on the phone asking rich people for money,” the RATM man later grumbled. “I think rock ’n’ roll is a better job.”

“I was a bit of a swot,” admitted the Queen man on Desert Island Discs. Big understatement: May took a BSc in maths and physics at Imperial College and was chewing over a job offer from Jodrell Bank Observatory when the lure of fat- bottomed girls proved too strong for him. “The crunch came,” he recalls, “and I had to decide between astronomy and music...”

10 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Music...

1. The oldest known musical instruments were flutes made from bird bone 42,000 years ago.

2. Handel is thought to have written more notes of music than any other composer.

3. In Singapore, clean toilets and appreciation of music are seen as signs of a gracious society.

4. When Mozart performed in London aged nine, he was closely examined by some who claimed he must be a dwarf as no child could be so good.

5. Brahms’s favourite tavern was Zum Roten Igel (The Red Hedgehog) in Vienna, which he visited most days often together with Johann Strauss.

6. When drinking coffee, Beethoven liked every cup to be made from exactly 60 coffee beans.

7. Mozart was a keen billiards player and owned a billiard table, five balls, 12 cues and four lights.

8. According to a survey at Barcelona University, the most popular chemical elements in song lyrics are silver, gold, tin and oxygen, in that order.

9. A musical fly swatter was patented in 1994. It changes tune when it hit something.

10. The world record speed for playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz is 52 seconds.

10-year Old Girl Nails Slayer Tune on Rocksmith with 98% Score!

10-Year-Old Girl's Guitar Cover Of Slayer Will Blow Your Mind, She Shreds Through 'War Ensemble' Like A Pro [WATCH]

If you thought the eighth-grade metal trio Unlocking the Truth was impressive, let your faith in the future of metal music be restored with this video (via UpRoxx) of a 10-year-old girl shredding away to Slayer's "War Ensemble," on the RockSmith video game.

The RockSmith game skills needed to play a song like that are pretty significant, and she tears through the whole song with effortless precision scoring 98%.

The video shows 10-year-old Audrey playing the song on Rocksmith. This game is no Guitar Hero or Rockband, where you're just pressing buttons. The system uses real guitars in an effort to teach and hone actual skills. Just watch the lower left-hand side of the screen, and you'll see she pretty much wins all the possible points. (Rocksmith is probably happy that they are getting free advertising for how well their product seems to work).


To add to the awesomeness of the video, Audrey's younger sister Kate provides some intense backup vocals. We think Tom Araya would be proud. It's safe to say we're looking at a future guitar hero. Heck, she already is one.

Watch the video for yourself (Audrey also has videos of her playing other difficult songs on her YouTube channel). Let us know what you think in the comments!

Canadian Musicians Get Shafted on Streaming Royalties...

Canadian musicians to fight truly pathetic royalty rates for their streaming music royalties.

Canadian artists are going to court to overturn a new royalties schedule that pays them only one hundredth of a penny every time one of their songs is streamed online...

After six years of hearing opposing arguments, the Copyright Board of Canada ruled this year that many streaming music sites must pay artists 10.2 cents every thousand plays, or a pathetic $0.0102 cents per play.

The CBC must pay slightly more at 13.1 cents per thousand streaming plays under what’s known as Tariff 8.

The Canadian rate is 10 times lower than in the United States, according to figures from the copyright board.

Now the music industry is fighting back...

Their campaign notes that the Barenaked Ladies song If I Had $1,000,000 would have to be played 9,200 times to afford the box of Kraft Dinner mentioned in the song. It would have to be played almost 10 billion times for the band to make one million dollars.

Nova Scotia artist Joel Plaskett said in an interview Tuesday the royalty fees are so small it’s almost meaningless for artists, especially new acts.

At a certain point only the really huge musicians are going to profit from that,” said Plaskett.

You just don’t get paid from the recorded material anymore; you have to make money from the live shows or maybe the licence from your song being used in a commercial.”

Now the group representing musicians has filed for a judicial review of Tariff 8 in the Federal Court of Appeal.

Re:Sound, the not-for-profit that represents the rights of performers, says the copyright board set its tariffs “in complete isolation of international rate standards.”

The society argues these rates will have “disruptive and devastating effects” on the industry. The other parties, a slew of Canadian broadcasters, have not yet responded to the court filing.

In its decision, the board found American rates are not a fair comparison. The American system is intended to replicate a competitive market outcome, but it also includes unique factors.

The American regime includes a “promotional value” of airplay and is designed to prevent reducing record sales. Neither of these views is in play in Canada.

Artists in Canada make much more money from radio royalties, largely because the radio industry is massive compared to the burgeoning online streaming industry.

In 2011, radio stations paid $56 million in music royalties.

But there is no straight comparison between radio and streaming fees. Radio stations pay royalties not per song, but as a percentage of gross revenue — up to 4.4 per cent — which are then paid out to artists through a formula that calculates several factors.

Tariff 8 applies to “non-interactive” or “semi-interactive” streaming sites. An online radio site or playlist site like Songza, where a person’s musical tastes affect their playlists, fall under Tariff 8.

YouTube and sites like Rdio are exempt because listeners pick each song they listen to. Those sites negotiate their fees directly with record labels.

Tariff 8 would also apply to Pandora, one of the most popular music sites in the United States. Pandora has not yet entered Canada, saying it was waiting for the royalties issue to be resolved.

Last month, Pandora CFO Mike Herring told an investor conference that Tariff 8 set the groundwork for his company to do business in Canada.

We have to solve the publishing side now. But we’re a big step closer to being in Canada,” said Herring.

The copyright board projects Pandora, with three billion plays per year, would pay $306,000 in royalties in Canada. The CBC would pay about $36,000.

The board expects Songza, with 70 million plays per year, would pay $7,140 in fees. In total, it projects Tariff 8 will bring in $500,000 in royalties annually if Pandora does enter the Canadian market. Because the case has been tied up for so long, Tariff 8 actually only applies retroactively to the years 2009 to 2012. But the rates for 2013 and beyond will be based off of this first decision.

Shaun Morgan's Top 5 Tips for Guitarists...

 Seether 'guitarist and singer' Shaun Morgan admits that the lead guitar spot in the multi-platinum band has been a bit of a bouncing ball. Since 1999, the group has gone through three lead axemen, with the most recent, Troy McLawhorn, departing in 2011.

"What drummers were to Spinal Tap, lead guitarists are to Seether," Morgan says with a good-natured laugh.“The problem is that a lot of these guys have ego problems, plain and simple. We’ve seen guys become rock stars overnight, which becomes a problem because that’s not how we operate. And we’ve had guys who stay for a few months and then say, ‘This is not for me.’ It’s a strange place to be in."

Earlier this year, Morgan, drummer John Humphrey and bassist Dale Stewart welcomed Bryan Wickermann as a touring lead guitarist for the band. Wickermann began working with Seether as part of his job at Schecter Guitars and then became the group's bass tech. So far, his promotion to an onstage role seems to be working out, says Morgan: "Everybody seems happy and feels that it's a good fit. No signs of rock stardom with Bryan. We'll see how it goes."

Morgan assumed all guitar responsibilities on Seether's just-released new album, Isolate And Medicate. It's the band's second effort with noted producer Brendan O'Brien, whose past work includes discs by Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine and Bruce Springsteen, among others. “It’s still humbling to work with a guy like Brendan," Morgan says. "He’s worked with some of the greatest artists and best players in the world. To think that he respects our band and likes what we do is pretty extraordinary."

"Brendan gives us a lot of freedom, and he’s always willing to try new ideas," Morgan elaborates. "He’ll always say, ‘That’s a great song, but how can we make it more interesting? How can we keep the listener engaged?’ And then there’s a lot of back and forth that happens, which can be exciting – you see the song take off in some new direction. But that’s the way Brendan is: He wants to make every second of the band’s music count.”

When asked to list his Top Five Tips for Guitarists, Morgan demurs at first – “I’m not an accomplished guitarist, so I really wouldn’t know what to say.” A second later, he does an abrupt 180 and says, “But I do know how to get the job done. If you’ve been in a band for as long as I have and have played a lot of shows, you figure out a few things along the way. So let's have a go then."

You can purchase Seether's Isolate And Medicate through the band's official website.

“I’ve never sat down with a guitar teacher to take a lesson – I refused to. I had friends who took lessons, and I always thought that they never really developed their own sound or style."

“Learning solos and scales just like somebody does them doesn’t seem like the right idea to me. Learn some chords by yourself and find your own way around the guitar. If you do that, I think you’ll discover a way of playing that’s all your own.”

“I always noticed that those same kids who learned how to play solos from guitar teachers never seemed to know how to hold down a rhythm.

“It’s one thing to be able to play arpeggiated, shreddy-type solos, but if you can’t play strum a simple rhythm, that’s really going to hold you back. So before you try to do all the tricky stuff, develop a real sense of rhythm. You'll be a much better player overall, and you'll work out better when you get in a band."

“If learning how to play isn’t fun, you’re not going to stick with it for very long. What I would do is, I’d buy a bunch of guitar magazines that had tablature of songs that I loved, and I’d teach myself how to play them.

“Some of the songs were a bit out of my reach, but I did learn the basics and would eventually figure things out. So I did teach myself, but it wasn’t like going to a guitar teacher who was correcting me all the time and making me play like him.

“The main thing is to persevere through the tough times and fight through any ruts. If you can learn to play songs that you love, you’re going to have a lot of breakthroughs along the way.”

“I started out on a Hofner guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo system. I had no idea how to change the strings or fine-tune it or anything; it was completely out of my capabilities as far as its mechanics.

“In hindsight, I should have started out with a simple Strat or a Strat knock-off. I almost gave up completely because of that first guitar. Trying to figure out how to deal with the floating tremolo just frustrated the hell out of me.

“Your first guitar should either be an acoustic or a simple electric that doesn’t have too much stuff on it; it's just too many things to deal with. You don’t want to sit there trying to figure out how to change the strings and all of that. You want to spend your time playing the thing.”

Tip #5). JOIN A BAND
“Playing the guitar in your room is fine, but you’ll become a better player so much faster the minute you start playing with other people. It’s really amazing how fast it all happens.

“Getting hooked on that live-music drug will fuel you to keep going. That’s the most fun part of the job, playing with other people and performing live. There really is no substitute for it at all.

“As soon as you feel comfortable with your abilities, get your buddies together, whether at school or in the neighborhood, and form a band. Go make some noise and have fun. The immediate return on your efforts will amaze you.”

The Physics of Master Guitar Playing...

by Tanya Lewis of Live

How do great guitarists bend a string like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix? One scientist sought to figure out how legendary performers make great music.

"Very good guitarists will manipulate the strings to make the instrument sing," David Robert Grimes, a physicist at Oxford University, in England, who plays guitar and was a member of a band in Dublin, Ireland, said in a statement.

The physics of string instruments is fairly well understood, but "I wanted to understand what it was about these guitar techniques that allows you to manipulate pitch," Grimes said. [The Mysterious Physics of 7 Everyday Things]

Grimes, who normally works on mathematical models of oxygen distribution in radiation therapy for cancer, spent his spare time crafting equations for various guitar techniques, including bending (pushing the strings up or down), tapping (hitting the strings), vibrato (moving the wrist back and forth to change a string's tension) and whammy bar action (a mechanical form of vibrato). His findings are detailed today (July 23) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Grimes came up with the equation for string bends experimentally, by measuring the pitch of notes produced when he bent the strings at different angles. He took one of his oldest guitarsto the engineering lab at Dublin City University, where he held a position previously, and asked a colleague to strip it down for his experiments.

"He was a musician too and looked at me with abject horror," Grimes said. "But we both knew it needed to be done — we put some nails into my guitar for science."

Guitar string properties can dramatically affect the pitch of a note, Grimes found. Specifically, the thickness of a string, as well as the amount the string stretches under force (known as the "Young's Modulus"), played important roles.

In guitar playing, a hammer-on is when the player hits a string with their finger to play a note. A pull-off is the opposite: plucking the string off the fingerboard. Grimes figured out that the difficulty of these techniques depends on the heights of the guitar strings above the fingerboard.

These musical phenomena are fairly straightforward, he said, but they're still "a cool way of studying some basic physics principles." These findings could be useful for guitar string manufacturers and people who model digital instruments, he added.

Grimes said he has a few guitar heroes of his own, who have mastered the techniques he studies. Still, "I think the only person I ever wrote fan mail to was Brian May of Queen," he admitted.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Live Science.

NEW BOOK: How to Make It in Music

Courtsey of Times

It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ’n’ roll. It takes even longer if you hope to make a reasonable living once you’re there.

That is where Canadian author Aaron Bethune and his book, Musicpreneur: The Creative Approach to Making Money in Music, come into play.

Bethune, 33, has discovered during his years in the music business that every artist could use a helping hand. Some musicians entrust booking agents, managers and promoters to handle the business end. Others attempt to go at it themselves.

In most cases, the results are middling. Bethune figures “99 per cent” of musicians are not making their living through music. Making it to the peak of the music business is a combination of luck, talent and happenstance. Bethune knew this as he began writing Musicpreneur, but the point was hammered home repeatedly during his research.

People follow other people and their success but don’t find success themselves,” he said. “One big thing that everyone does is look at someone else’s success and they try to come up with the same recipe. They take those ingredients and they repeat it. But they always miss the one thing.”

According to Bethune, that one thing is uniqueness, the distinguishing factor that separates one artist from the next. Those who discover it occupy the one per cent inhabited by the Taylor Swifts of the world, he goes on to explain in the book.

Why aren’t people making a living at it?” he said. “Why is this person on the radio? There are answers to all these questions.”

Bethune dives into the topic over the book’s 368 pages. Chapters are separated into categories such as; branding, public relations and radio promotion, among others. Bethune, who was born in Montreal, wrote from a Canadian perspective, though the content is universal, he said.

Musicpreneur was released through Above the Noise, Bethune’s newly created publishing company. Buoyed by the illuminating experience of writing his first book, he intends to release other titles.

It became kind of a personal challenge, this book. It was really beneficial for me in the sense that I was able to focus what I had done over the years.”

He has spent much of the past decade consulting, managing and promoting artists. Bethune, who has a degree in jazz guitar from Vancouver Island University, knows firsthand the perils awaiting performers as they navigate the ever-changing industry. And he has a grasp on the way various cultures affect their exports, having lived in Canada, England, Spain and the U.S.

He combined his experience with interviews conducted for the book, largely with what society would term successful people. Bethune ingested it all, from the clinically researched psychopathy of CEOs to the persistence and drive of professional athletes. “A lot of research went into trying to get every angle I possibly could.”

He came to sobering conclusion. “The answer isn’t in the music industry,” he said. “It’s outside of it.”

Bethune expects the book to be suitable for musicians looking to create income with music. His audience, however, is somewhat amorphous.

I’ve written it with the intent that someone will look at this with a fresh mind. Whether it’s a veteran who wants to further their career or someone starting out, it’s not for dummies. There are some pretty complex strategies involved.”

He has already received substantial feedback. A post-secondary school in San Francisco (which he chose not to name) has asked Bethune to expand Musicpreneur into a semester-long course, he said. Another prestigious institution, Boston’s Berklee College of Music, has also expressed interest, he added.

At the end of the day, it’s only rock ’n’ roll. The deeper issues — the biological effect music has on the human brain; the impact one’s age has on the passion for a particular band — won’t be fully explained any time soon, if ever. There is hope, however.

Bethune found that while artists today have a better grasp on their own checks and balances — more so than their peers did decades ago — there is no ceiling on the amount of information available to a musician, should he or she choose to absorb it.

That made Bethune’s job easier the deeper he got into writing Musicpreneur.

There is a real lack of understanding of how the business works."

But once you know the rules of the game, you know how to play the game, and you can come up with your own rules.”

For information, visit

VIDEO: Ultimate Guitar Fails of 2014

YouTuber; Uniformedia has complied a hilarious six-minute video called “Ultimate Guitar Fails Compilation 2014.”

As its title suggests, it’s a compilation of a mess of “guitar fails” — those horrible things that happen when you’re trying to look so cool on stage. Like when you try to flip the guitar around your back and it (or you) wind up on the floor, (or worse).

Most of the “failures” in the video are regular folks, but there’s also a James Hetfield appearance and one by Satchel of Steel Panther.

Enjoy! And comment on which one you liked the most.

Universal Music Looking for Next Big YouTube Star!

Universal Music Group, the biggest recording conglomerate in the world and home to artists like Celine Dion, Eminem and Lady Gaga, has announced the formation of a brand new record label entitled Awesomeness Music, which will exclusively mine YouTube channels in hopes of breaking the next big recording star.

Universal is partnering on the venture with music entrepreneurs Russell Simmons and Steve Rifkind to sign artists that have already catapulted to acclaim on YouTube -- a platform where 1 billion unique visitors consume over six billion hours of content every month.

Another partner on the venture is YouTube and television executive Brian Robbins, founder of the YouTube multi-channel network AwesomenessTV, which was acquired by DreamWorks in May 2013 for $33 million.

Two acts have already been signed: Cimorelli, a sextet of sisters whose a cappella pop covers have garnered nearly 3 million subscribers and Niykee Heaton, an 18-year-old singer songwriter from Chicago. Two additional artists will be signed in coming weeks, said Rifkind, who will serve as CEO of the label.

"We want to show the world that there's a new way of doing business," he told the Los Angeles Times. “The great thing is, we can reach our fans at the press of a button."

Awesomeness Music doesn’t represent the first time top music execs have turned to YouTube to unearth emerging talent with inbuilt fan bases and palpable buzz. In the past, popular acts to emerge from the site have included tween heartthrobs like Justin Bieber and Austin Mahone, as well as viral artists like Psy, of Gangam Style fame, which is by far the most viewed YouTube video of all time.

Previously, in March 2013, Simmons and Robbins partnered to form a YouTube network called All Def Digital with a stated focus on "post-racial" programming.

Alice Cooper's Words of Warning to Guitarist Nita Strauss...

“He told me, ‘You’re gonna get paid, you’re gonna see the world, and you’re gonna get stitches!’” Strauss said. 

“I just try to stay out of the way when the guillotine comes out. If you’re not careful when Alice Cooper comes out swinging a sword, you’re gonna get poked!” 

At age 27, new Alice Cooper touring guitarist Nita Strauss is younger than many of the fans in the audience. But gigs playing guitar with acts as diverse as reunited ‘80s rockers Femme Fatale, video game tribute band Critical Hit, and Jermaine Jackson – yes, that Jermaine Jackson – have infused her with plenty of necessary experience for the task.

During a phone conversation from a tour stop in Wichita, the Santa Monica native gives the most credit to her time with The Iron Maidens for preparing her for the theatrics of an Alice Cooper performance. The all-female Iron Maiden tribute act’s own live show is also loaded with plenty of pomp.

“If I had not had the experience of playing with the Iron Maidens, playing for Alice would be more of a shock,” Strauss says. “Obviously Alice’s show is a much bigger production overall, but with The Iron Maidens I was still getting chased by [Iron Maiden mascot] Eddie onstage and dealing with CO2 cannons for many shows.”

In the ‘70s, Alice Cooper was one of the first rockers to incorporate large-scale theatrics into his live shows. He still proudly carries on that tradition in 2014, deploying a variety of outlandish set pieces for classic tracks like “Welcome To My Nightmare," ranging from large monsters invading the stage to simulated death sequences. Though many precautions are taken, Cooper did pull Strauss aside on the first day of the tour to promise one thing.

“He told me, ‘You’re gonna get paid, you’re gonna see the world, and you’re gonna get stitches!’” Strauss said. “I just try to stay out of the way when the guillotine comes out. If you’re not careful when Alice Cooper comes out swinging a sword, you’re gonna get poked!”

So far, Strauss has been fortunate enough to avoid injury on the current tour, which hits the Hollywood Bowl on Monday, July 21. Opening for Mötley Crüe, Strauss spends every night both playing and listening to many songs that were written before she was born.

“These bands are a part of everyone’s journey growing up,” Strauss says. “There’s a moment during Mötley Crüe’s set where they say they’re taking the crowd ‘back to 1981!’ But in the crowd you’re seeing kids in Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper T-shirts singing along with songs like ‘Billion Dollar Babies.’ It transcends age.”

VIDEO: Guitar Power Episode 1 - featuring Tosin Abasi...

Presented by D’Addario and Rolling Stone Young Guns, Guitar Power is a new series hosted by Matt Sweeney. 

In each episode, Matt will sit and chat with an up-and-coming guitarist to discuss their influences, technique, gear, and approach.

In Episode 1 Matt chats with "Animals As Leaders" front man Tosin Abasi.

VIDEO: Top 4 Most Annoying Idiots at Music Festivals...

So, you've decided to attend a summer music festival this year...

Congratulations! Between upcoming events like; the Mad Decent Block Party, Veld, OVO, Lollapalooza and Osheaga, we're sure you've made a good choice.

And after all that hard work, and saving or somehow justifying dropping hundreds of dollars on weekend passes, you're ready for hours of entertainment and live music. And once you arrive, surely there will be nothing standing between you and your favorite acts.

...That is unless of course you run into one of "THOSE" people.

Sure, they've probably paid the price of admission and have a similar taste in music, but that's where the similarities end...

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the four most annoying kinds of idiots at music festivals...

Steve Vai Webinar – Perfect Pedal Order...

BOSS USA and Musician’s Friend organised this special Webinar event with the legendary Steve Vai to talk about pedal boards and the perfect pedal order. 

This event was recorded live but is available to watch below in two parts, the first part is just over 1 hour in length and the last part is just over 10 minutes.

Part 1:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Part 2:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream