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  1. #1
    Baluchitherium Duke's Avatar
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    07.10.17 @ 08:25 AM
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    Default All You Folks Worried About ADKOT Sales #'s Should Read This

    The Curious Case Of Van Halen by Bob Lefsetz




    The album is FANTASTIC!

    At least thatís the buzz. I may have been the only person who liked "Tattoo", but all the fanboys love the album.

    But nobodyís buying it. It sold only 187,494 copies in its debut week. And itís not lighting up the Mediabase charts either, "Tattoo" is number 26 at Active Rock and "Sheís The Woman" is number 40.

    But people love the album. On Amazon itís got a four and a half star rating, which is extremely rare, even the most popular albums settle in at three and a half.

    Now if you grade on a scale, "A Different Kind Of Truth" entered the chart at number two, beaten only by Adele. So, if youíre someone who enjoys rankings, you can take pleasure in this.

    But the sales number is piss-poor.

    In other words, the old paradigm is dead.

    You know, the one that began in the SoundScan era, twenty years ago. Where your project was front-loaded, where you amped up the publicity to get a good first week number, to get retailers to stock the CD. And if you got a high number, you were on your way, if not, and you were an established act, you were dead.

    But now recording income is no longer the primary revenue stream. Itís just a piece of the pie. Albums are advertisements for the tour. And based on reaction to "A Different Kind Of Truth", Van Halen will be able to tour for years to come.

    In other words, if you werenít going to go to the show, if youíre not a Van Halen fan, you can completely ignore "A Different Kind Of Truth". But amongst those who care, whoíll lay down a hundred bucks for a ticket, word is spreading, Van Halen is back.

    In other words, if youíre playing to everybody, youíre wasting your time. Donít worry about either pleasing or offending everybody, just think about satiating your core.

    All the criticism has gone out the window. That the band recycled old riffs, that "Tattoo" was a disappointment. Now that everybody can hear something, opinion can change instantly.

    And where you listen is Spotify.

    Which is why you want to be on Spotify.

    Because you want to have a chance for your music to be discovered. Word would not be spreading if everybody had to lay down in excess of ten bucks to hear "A Different Kind Of Truth". Look at that sales number, most people arenít. But fans are ECSTATIC!

    1. Focus on the music.

    People thought "Tattoo" sucked, but they think the whole album is great. "Tattoo" is forgotten and now Van Halen is riding a high.

    2. Donít front-load your publicity.

    Itíll only be a matter of time before you read about an established actís momentum deep into their album cycle. Music is not movies, here for a weekend. Music is forever if done right. Think about making it that way, like you want it to last.

    3. The recordings are an advertisement for what else you have to sell.

    Used to be the recording was the end all and be all. Hell, labels only garnered this revenue. Now the music is only the beginning. I donít think music should be free, but given the choice between selling an album for ten bucks plus or giving it away Iíd say to go the latter route. You canít sell tickets, you canít sell merch if people donít hear the music.

    4. Short term thinking is dead.

    Donít think about this tour, but the two or three after it. By putting out a great album, Van Halen cemented its future business. There may not be stories in the mainstream press, but the fans know.

    5. Ignore the news cycle.

    Itís brief and your career is long.

    6. America likes to forgive.

    Well, not Chris Brown. But assuming your only offense is lousy music, great stuff can change peopleís impression instantly. Weíre all looking for great stuff, and thereís very little of it out there.

    Itís a new game. Although Van Halen got a big check from Interscope, I donít think the label was necessary. Larry Solters could get them publicity on his own. Dave loves to talk, news outlets love to listen. And with physical retail on its last legs, anybody can get on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, et al.

    As for radioÖ Van Halenís never going to cross over to Top Forty, and thatís the only format that sells music in vast amounts.

    And the band is not lighting up the Active Rock chart, which wants younger bands.

    In other words, everything the label can provide, other than cash, Van Halen doesnít need.
    The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
    -H.S.T

    This next part could really confuse things. Let's stay focused. #asis

  2. #2
    Eruption EAS's Avatar
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    12.09.17 @ 07:25 AM
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    Interesting article. Thanks for posting it.
    ________________

  3. #3
    Eruption Legend of Roth's Avatar
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    Bob Lefsetz is basically talking about the business model that The Rolling Stones have used with their albums in the past 20 years or so. It does work for them. It's a tool just to get people ramped up about the large scale tour that follows. I guess that can work, but I'm not sure Van Halen are at the point to being a huge touring attraction that will for sure sell out everywhere they play even with outrageous ticket prices like the Stones do. They are close but I'm not sure they are at that level with the general music public.
    While Van Halen will probably never go multi platinum with a new album again, I don't think the record sales are as meaningless to them or the lable as this guy seems to think. And I hate that at least this guy in the media is already calling the album a failure sales wise in just it's 2nd week, even though he is trying to spin a good view about it.

  4. #4
    Sinner's Swing!
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    12.12.17 @ 02:53 PM
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    I guess I'll just say that I still buy albums (cds, whatever) and it bugs me that they just don't sell any more. Major bands are going 5,6,7,8, or more (14 for instance) years these days between releasing new albums and when they do still only a tiny percentage of the built in fanbase will buy them. It just frustrates me because as someone who actually still cares about my old favorite bands releasing new music it's just almost becoming not even worth their time. And cds are actually a much better value now than 20-25 years ago. I bought the deluxe VH new cd at Best Buy for $14.99 and that's about what I was paying for cds 20 years ago and there's much more music on them now plus a lot of times there's bonus stuff like a dvd. People will pay $150 or more just to hear the same few hit songs from 30 years ago but won't spend $15 every 5 years on new music. It boggles the mind.

  5. #5
    Baluchitherium Duke's Avatar
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    His point is, and I completely agree, is the old paradigm is gone. There are ways to make big money in the music business, but relying on album sales is a thing of the past.
    And as far as totals go, I recall reading somewhere that if you were to include illegal downloads and 'shares', you could probably take that 187,000 (or whatever the number is for whatever artist) and times it by 5 or so.

    That gets you closer to a million which is what the old way of doing things would look like.

    I think it's also important to note that VH, with DLR and Interscopes help seems to realize all of this, and they are doing things in a more modern and fan friendly way.
    The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
    -H.S.T

    This next part could really confuse things. Let's stay focused. #asis

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    It's interesting how there has been a complete 180 in music. Tours used to, for most artists, basically support single sales. Then the album had more emphasis on it (many thank the Beatles for this), and it became something to make money on just like the tours (or sometimes instead of them, like with the aforementioned Beatles). Either way, many of the contracts throughout history have been terrible for artists. On the flip side, as I've mentioned before, the label assumes all of the risk by paying for the album to be made and promoted. Labels have even been burned by what were before for-sure artists (ask Warner Bros. how that R.E.M. contract turned out for them).

    As of about 10 years ago the whole thing completed its turn and the album became a tool to drive ticket sales (of course labels started to take a piece of this in contracts too). The mention of that in the initial post is no revelation; it's pretty much been that way, as I said, for a decade. As discussed in other threads, the labels have pretty much themselves to blame for this, as they missed the mark on digital music until Steve Jobs set them straight. Jobs estimated that given the ease stealing music, 80% of people would still pay for it if given the chance, and I agree. I have d/l albums before, and I'd say 99% have been either A) it leaked, and I wanted to hear it asap, or B) I bought it once before and it got scratched or lost. Sometimes it's very easy. But other times the rip isn't good, and that's the version that's ubiquitous on the net, and sometimes it's a fake, and sometimes it's dangerous to even open the file. Sometimes it's really hard to find. The alternative is to pay $10 to have a good, safe rip. I think most people like that option, especially those whose time is money.

    People still want music, but there is not only a free alternative, but also lots of competition. We have more and more things to distract us and entertain us with easier and easier ways to consume them. This is also part of the issue. Let's also not forget that so many albums are not worth buying the whole thing. How many people got burned on albums like that? I'd bet plenty of people listened to the 1:30 previews on iTunes and bought 2-4 songs from ADKOT. That option wasn't there before. Might the album otherwise been bought without that option? Sure. It also might have been stolen. Either way that affects album sales.

    I think those of us that would like VH to be successful want VH to continue making music that they're passionate about that doesn't exist solely as an excuse to sell tickets and EVH Gear. If their albums lose money, we'll see more of 1996, 2004, and 2007-2008 than we will 1977-1995 and 2012-?. That's our issue. It's also been VH's m.o. At this point in my life, I can't really afford to blow hundreds of dollars on 2 hours of my life to see VH in a nosebleed seat. I love listening to music. I like concerts too, but I love my music collection. I want to see the VH side of that expand. A well-executed album that's poorly promoted is such a waste, and that's what I see here.

    Whether VH wants to sell it for $10 or give it away is pointless. Each band makes that decision on their own. Obviously Radiohead put a large amount of effort into In Rainbows and let fans decide. Many took it for free. But people have to know about it. And if you're going the traditional route, which VH did, then sales matter. If someone stole the album I doubt they're paying hundreds or thousands to see you on tour.
    Last edited by lovemachine97(Version 2); 02.21.12 at 04:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Top Of The World VH47's Avatar
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    Nope. He's got it backwards. Nobody, least of all a major label, spends big money to finance an album only to watch it crash and burn. Yes. The reason why bands go on tour these days is because that's where the money is at. Bands reap the majority of ticket sales. No question there. But studios see the bulk of their profits from album receipts, not tours. So the tour helps promote the album while helping the band pay off the expenses associated with making that record. If Van Halen only wanted to make money, they would have stayed away from the studio and continued touring.

    Making a record is not cheap. Costs to run a tour aren't cheap either. But if you've noticed, the band is playing on a no frills stage with a one video screen behind them. They've been taking lessons from KISS. But unlike KISS or other acts like Billy Joel and Elton John (who tour nonstop) they don't have the overhead associated with a new record. The last record KISS put out was bought and paid in advance by Walmart so they could have exclusive rights to sell it. Acts like AC/DC and the Eagles had similar ventures and both parties made serous money selling millions of each record. However, on this venture Walmart lost their shirt. KISS went on tour and made some really bad commercials promoting the record, but the album never sold. Didn't even receive gold status in sales. Was KISS hurting? Nope. Walmart paid them to do the record, so their interests were already covered. They toured, pocketed the money from the tour and only had to share profits from the merchandise sold at Walmart. KISS cleaned up. Walmart sank.

    Van Halen is not in that situation. The label which packaged, printed, and financed their record is a creditor. Their expecting a return on their investment. If the album tanks, and the studio doesn't retrieve it's production costs, Van Halen will be on the hook to pay them, plus any guarantees written into the deal. And that payment could be greater if the label also helped finance the tour. So in no way is that record promoting the tour. The tour is promoting the record. Tours of established acts sell themselves. The concerts are selling out. There are already more concert tickets sold than copies of this new record. And interest in Van Halen tickets were higher than the Superbowl before the album came out. So no. That album is doing nothing for the tour.

    This was a calculated risk. Van Halen could have gone out on the road with another tour and not have to worry about the overhead associated with a new record. They gambled and hoped the novelty of a new record would finance itself AND help finance costs associated with their tour. Initial results suggest that is not working out. So make no mistake. It's going to take a while for Van Halen to get in the black if this album bombs.

    A poor selling record translates into a much longer tour to help acquire the bottom line their looking for. And yes. Van Halen will make money on this tour. But if the they have to spend a good segment of it paying for a failed album, fans SHOULD be concerned about whether they ever bother to venture into the studio to make another one again. Now THAT is something worth worrying about if this record doesn't perk up.
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  8. #8
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    12.12.17 @ 02:53 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by lovemachine97(Version 2) View Post
    It's interesting how there has been a complete 180 in music. Tours used to, for most artists, basically support single sales. Then the album had more emphasis on it (many thank the Beatles for this), and it became something to make money on just like the tours (or sometimes instead of them, like with the aforementioned Beatles). Either way, many of the contracts throughout history have been terrible for artists. On the flip side, as I've mentioned before, the label assumes all of the risk by paying for the album to be made and promoted. Labels have even been burned by what were before for-sure artists (ask Warner Bros. how that R.E.M. contract turned out for them).

    As of about 10 years ago the whole thing completed its turn and the album became a tool to drive ticket sales (of course labels started to take a piece of this in contracts too). The mention of that in the initial post is no revelation; it's pretty much been that way, as I said, for a decade. As discussed in other threads, the labels have pretty much themselves to blame for this, as they missed the mark on digital music until Steve Jobs set them straight. Jobs estimated that given the ease stealing music, 80% of people would still pay for it if given the chance, and I agree. I have d/l albums before, and I'd say 99% have been either A) it leaked, and I wanted to hear it asap, or B) I bought it once before and it got scratched or lost. Sometimes it's very easy. But other times the rip isn't good, and that's the version that's ubiquitous on the net, and sometimes it's a fake, and sometimes it's dangerous to even open the file. Sometimes it's really hard to find. The alternative is to pay $10 to have a good, safe rip. I think most people like that option, especially those whose time is money.

    People still want music, but there is not only a free alternative, but also lots of competition. We have more and more things to distract us and entertain us with easier and easier ways to consume them. This is also part of the issue. Let's also not forget that so many albums are not worth buying the whole thing. How many people got burned on albums like that? I'd bet plenty of people listened to the 1:30 previews on iTunes and bought 2-4 songs from ADKOT. That option wasn't there before. Might the album otherwise been bought without that option? Sure. It also might have been stolen. Either way that affects album sales.

    I think those of us that would like VH to be successful want VH to continue making music that they're passionate about that doesn't exist solely as an excuse to sell tickets and EVH Gear. If their albums lose money, we'll see more of 1996, 2004, and 2007-2008 than we will 1977-1995 and 2012-?. That's our issue. It's also been VH's m.o. At this point in my life, I can't really afford to blow hundreds of dollars on 2 hours of my life to see VH in a nosebleed seat. I love listening to music. I like concerts too, but I love my music collection. I want to see the VH side of that expand. A well-executed album that's poorly promoted is such a waste, and that's what I see here.

    Whether VH wants to sell it for $10 or give it away is pointless. Each band makes that decision on their own. Obviously Radiohead put a large amount of effort into In Rainbows and let fans decide. Many took it for free. But people have to know about it. And if you're going the traditional route, which VH did, then sales matter. If someone stole the album I doubt they're paying hundreds or thousands to see you on tour.

    You say that if they stole the album (or maybe didn't even care enough to steal it, they just don't have it at all) they're probably not someone who would spend money on a live show which seems to make sense but then how do you explain the fact that the total number of concert-goers will likely dramatically exceed total album sales? At this point I don't know how many tickets have been sold but let's say for simplicity's sake that there are 10,000 per show and they do the scheduled 48 shows (with possibly more to be announced), that's 480,000 concert-goers.

    As it now stands that's roughly 300,000 fans who are willing to spend a whole lot of money (remember, it's not just tickets, it's gas, food, hotels, concessions, band merchandise, etc.) but either stole the album or don't even care enough about it to do that. It's just weird. Plus, there will always be some fans who buy the album but will not go to a show for many reasons whether financial, logistical, schedule conflict, or whatever so that means even more of the live audience will buy a concert ticket but won't care about the album no matter how good people say it is.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdog View Post
    You say that if they stole the album (or maybe didn't even care enough to steal it, they just don't have it at all) they're probably not someone who would spend money on a live show which seems to make sense but then how do you explain the fact that the total number of concert-goers will likely dramatically exceed total album sales? At this point I don't know how many tickets have been sold but let's say for simplicity's sake that there are 10,000 per show and they do the scheduled 48 shows (with possibly more to be announced), that's 480,000 concert-goers.

    As it now stands that's roughly 300,000 fans who are willing to spend a whole lot of money (remember, it's not just tickets, it's gas, food, hotels, concessions, band merchandise, etc.) but either stole the album or don't even care enough about it to do that. It's just weird. Plus, there will always be some fans who buy the album but will not go to a show for many reasons whether financial, logistical, schedule conflict, or whatever so that means even more of the live audience will buy a concert ticket but won't care about the album no matter how good people say it is.
    I kind of wrote that stream of consciousness and there are some unclear ideas in there. What I meant was that I think if someone is stealing the album, it's someone who probably can't afford it. I think most Van Halen fans who want the album are paying for it and want to pay for it. It skews old and White, but there are probably people unemployed who have internet but can't justify the $14, and there is probably a minority of fans that really struggle and can't swing it. However, there are probably lots of casual fans who have money to blow and just want to hear Ed and Dave play Panama for the 112,454 time, just like the Stones fans who didn't buy or steal A Bigger Bang but saw them on tour.

    I'm just saying that, in this case, I don't think downloading is a VH problem.

  10. #10
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    Unfortunately, your last explanation is by far the most common reason. I've always said that for most people music is something they're really only are passionate about when they're young, especially rock fans. After getting older and getting a job, getting married, finding new hobbies and interests etc. they just are no longer receptive to new music no matter who it is or how good it is. You're right, the vast majority of the audience for any of these major but older rock bands haven't cared enough to buy one of their albums in a long time. It's not because they aren't any good or are too expensive or any other practical reason, they're just no longer interested in hearing anything other than what they know.

    Most of the audience is just going to the shows to hear the same few old standards just like people listen to the same few signature songs on classic rock radio over and over and over. As soon as they hear anything they didn't grow up with they instantly quit paying attention. As I've told people on the forum I've tried to get old friends who I know are (or were) rock fans excited about the new VH album but I just can't even get some of them to listen. I kept sending one friend the preview clips as they were released and spent a week trying to see what he thought and every time I asked he just said "ah man, I just haven't had any time to even play them". I went to tons of rock concerts with this guy in the 80s. Some people won't even bother to listen for free when it's put right in front of them. But I'd bet he'd go see them live if I asked him so he could hear Panama and Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love.

    Most people have a window for that sort of thing and after a time all they want to do is relive that. I hope I never get like that.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdog View Post
    Unfortunately, your last explanation is by far the most common reason. I've always said that for most people music is something they're really only are passionate about when they're young, especially rock fans. After getting older and getting a job, getting married, finding new hobbies and interests etc. they just are no longer receptive to new music no matter who it is or how good it is. You're right, the vast majority of the audience for any of these major but older rock bands haven't cared enough to buy one of their albums in a long time. It's not because they aren't any good or are too expensive or any other practical reason, they're just no longer interested in hearing anything other than what they know.

    Most of the audience is just going to the shows to hear the same few old standards just like people listen to the same few signature songs on classic rock radio over and over and over. As soon as they hear anything they didn't grow up with they instantly quit paying attention. As I've told people on the forum I've tried to get old friends who I know are (or were) rock fans excited about the new VH album but I just can't even get some of them to listen. I kept sending one friend the preview clips as they were released and spent a week trying to see what he thought and every time I asked he just said "ah man, I just haven't had any time to even play them". I went to tons of rock concerts with this guy in the 80s. Some people won't even bother to listen for free when it's put right in front of them. But I'd bet he'd go see them live if I asked him so he could hear Panama and Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love.

    Most people have a window for that sort of thing and after a time all they want to do is relive that. I hope I never get like that.
    Excellent point. While I live in the DC area, I'm going to the Nashville show. Why? (1) I'm not sure I can trust my friends in their mid-40s to be interested enough to go, and (2) I'm going with the same friend who was with me when we saw them in 1980, when we were in high school (he lives in Nashville). You're right, I don't want to be one of those guys, either!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by VH47 View Post
    Nope. He's got it backwards. Nobody, least of all a major label, spends big money to finance an album only to watch it crash and burn. Yes. The reason why bands go on tour these days is because that's where the money is at. Bands reap the majority of ticket sales. No question there. But studios see the bulk of their profits from album receipts, not tours. So the tour helps promote the album while helping the band pay off the expenses associated with making that record. If Van Halen only wanted to make money, they would have stayed away from the studio and continued touring.

    Making a record is not cheap. Costs to run a tour aren't cheap either. But if you've noticed, the band is playing on a no frills stage with a one video screen behind them. They've been taking lessons from KISS. But unlike KISS or other acts like Billy Joel and Elton John (who tour nonstop) they don't have the overhead associated with a new record. The last record KISS put out was bought and paid in advance by Walmart so they could have exclusive rights to sell it. Acts like AC/DC and the Eagles had similar ventures and both parties made serous money selling millions of each record. However, on this venture Walmart lost their shirt. KISS went on tour and made some really bad commercials promoting the record, but the album never sold. Didn't even receive gold status in sales. Was KISS hurting? Nope. Walmart paid them to do the record, so their interests were already covered. They toured, pocketed the money from the tour and only had to share profits from the merchandise sold at Walmart. KISS cleaned up. Walmart sank.

    Van Halen is not in that situation. The label which packaged, printed, and financed their record is a creditor. Their expecting a return on their investment. If the album tanks, and the studio doesn't retrieve it's production costs, Van Halen will be on the hook to pay them, plus any guarantees written into the deal. And that payment could be greater if the label also helped finance the tour. So in no way is that record promoting the tour. The tour is promoting the record. Tours of established acts sell themselves. The concerts are selling out. There are already more concert tickets sold than copies of this new record. And interest in Van Halen tickets were higher than the Superbowl before the album came out. So no. That album is doing nothing for the tour.

    This was a calculated risk. Van Halen could have gone out on the road with another tour and not have to worry about the overhead associated with a new record. They gambled and hoped the novelty of a new record would finance itself AND help finance costs associated with their tour. Initial results suggest that is not working out. So make no mistake. It's going to take a while for Van Halen to get in the black if this album bombs.

    A poor selling record translates into a much longer tour to help acquire the bottom line their looking for. And yes. Van Halen will make money on this tour. But if the they have to spend a good segment of it paying for a failed album, fans SHOULD be concerned about whether they ever bother to venture into the studio to make another one again. Now THAT is something worth worrying about if this record doesn't perk up.
    Out of curiosity, do you know the deal they had signed with interscope? The record was in the can, and it's my understanding that all the promotion is being paid for by the bands management (don't remember where I read that on here)... I think interscope doesnt have as much to lose in this deal as it could have. Again, just based on what Ive read in various posts here. all that being said, this record needs to eventually hit certain sales numbers for the band to bother making another album...I would think...and I really hope it hits those levels.
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  13. #13
    5150 dropped-d's Avatar
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    Default I kinda of agree

    [QUOTE=Legend of Roth;1483138]Bob Lefsetz is basically talking about the business model that The Rolling Stones have used with their albums in the past 20 years or so. It does work for them.

    Not only the Stones - DMB, Buffett, The perenial tourers who leisurely march around the country plundering and having a blast. VH could do this.

    VH will be more than a flash in the pan. The Stones wasted alot of time and energy releasing a lot of new material when they could have released a few of the better crafted tracks here and there and not shoot for another Exile. Hard to teach old dogs new tricks.

    Ed, Dave a 4 song EP would be wonderful for 2013. Even if its on tuba.

    Does anyone else wanna hear what wolfie can do on a 6 or 8 string?

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dropped-d View Post

    Not only the Stones - DMB, Buffett, The perenial tourers who leisurely march around the country plundering and having a blast. VH could do this.

    VH will be more than a flash in the pan. The Stones wasted alot of time and energy releasing a lot of new material when they could have released a few of the better crafted tracks here and there and not shoot for another Exile. Hard to teach old dogs new tricks.

    Ed, Dave a 4 song EP would be wonderful for 2013. Even if its on tuba.

    Does anyone else wanna hear what wolfie can do on a 6 or 8 string?
    Would think releases to iTunes/website would be doable..
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  15. #15
    Good Enough Kevin Dodds's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EVHWolf View Post
    Would think releases to iTunes/website would be doable..
    Rush released two songs for download only last year for the first time ever for their tour. It's not a completely, ridiculously unreasonable expectation.

    KBD3
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