Where is melodic rock/AOR heading?

gdazegodgdazegod Posted 3 months ago
Where is melodic rock/AOR heading? This question becomes more relevant with each passing year. Either things are improving, or they're not. Depends who you talk to.

In fact, I've been writing about the decline of AOR and melodic rock since.. well since we began this website nearly twenty years ago. So perhaps it isn't in decline, or not at the rate of decline equivalent to the extinction of certain animals for example?

The scene is still populated by ageing dinosaurs (many of which are extinct btw) but these are ones who don't quite know when to give it up. Just a quick checklist: Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Fleetwood Mac, Bryan Adams, and even the Rolling Stones (though not technically melodic rock) still managing to stand up on stage without the help of a zimmer frame. And that's just a bare sample, there are many more oldies trying to relive their heyday on the boulevard of broken dreams.

More recent artists are trying to survive by doing the smaller circuits and doing the heavy loading themselves in terms of management and bookings, while making use of the Internet to spread their word. It sure is hard work being a band if you don't have the support structure around you.

Other acts/projects don't bother touring at all, instead preferring to work out of a home studio just for the love of it.

So where does the money trail lead to? Not that far up the road I can tell you that much.

Most established labels in our favourite genre of rock prefer being presented with the final product, rather than fork out the extra costs for a post recording session mixer or engineer. Just look at the big three: Frontiers, Escape and AOR Heaven.

To be honest, does an artist actually make any money these days? Does a record label? Does the effort equal the reward? I would suggest to you that on all three counts, the answer is: no, no and no.

I've heard many tales of woe over the years. Musicians should be applauded for their 'I do it all for love' attitude, because yes, that's about all they get out of it.

Even to play live, some acts have to 'pay to play' just to get a foot through the door, let alone think about making any money from performing. It's certainly a different business model to the one that used to operate thirty or forty years ago. I am reminded of that recent TV show called 'Vinyl', as to how ludicrous the record industry was back in the 70's. These days, it's a different kind of ludicrous!

Regarding large scale live venues, I haven't seen a balance sheet analysing what it costs venue organisers to put on a large scale gig (like Sweden Rock Festival for instance). How much it costs, the logistics versus how much they make via ticket sales. There's also the security, insurance and imdemnity issues, and you wonder at the end of the day, whether these guys make any money either! If that's the case, why do they bother? A loss making venture year after year is not something to be shouting from the rooftops!

The reissue labels won't be making a lot of money either. The regulars here who are interested in this activity know full well how much of a hit and miss arena this is, as we discuss the merits of Rock Candy Records for instance. Some items will sell, some will sit on the shelves, and from there we debate the merits of the remastering quality.

As we venture further into 2019, is the scene really thriving or is it treading water? As mentioned above, I've been saying for a long time then the melodic rock scene is one heart beat away from a pulmonary. It's still only just hanging on for dear life, but it has now since the turn of the millennium.

In recent times, I haven't seen one act that has shaken the scene to a point of revival. In fact, it's not just melodic rock, but the entire music industry in general. We can blame dumbed down TV shows and couch surfing audiences for the brain drain. The real music packed up its suitcase and left the house a long long time ago.

As for this website, should we just give up on the current scene, and turn GDM into a 70's and 80's tribute site? That's what the title says: glory daze, and it surely isn't in the here and now.

What say you 'brethren'?

About gdazegod

I am the Super Administrator of GDM, and I currently live in Melbourne, AUST


Member Comments

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  • dangerzone
    I honestly pay no attention to modern melodic rock or AOR. Zero. It’s faceless, bland and generic, which like you George, I’ve also been saying for what seems like decades now. I just live in the past and I’m happy with that.
    Reply · · - April 17 2019 05:35:11
  • Candyman
    There's been some great modern melodic rock albums released in recent years that have been reviewed on the site.
    I enjoy reading all the reviews, whether its a classic album that I know well, or an obscure album (either new or from the 70's) i've never heard of that I can check out.
    It would be shame if Glorydaze didn't seek out and review albums by bands like The Night Flight Orchestra, Cats In Space, Eclipse etc.
    Reply · · - April 17 2019 08:58:15
  • dtabachn
    My two cents is I stll want to read and write about current stuff. Obviously this is no longer the 80's nor even the 90's, and there's tons of classic and notheworthy stuff from the past yet to be discussed. However, a part of my interest is still in the current scene.
    Reply · · - April 17 2019 14:13:32
  • melodiapositiva
    I think there are a lot of classic albums from the Glory days to review ,I am thinking about albums like Keeper of the seven key 1,To hell with the devil or Realized fantasies to name a few but there are hundreds like those.
    I like to read some of the new albums reviews but it is difficult I decide to buy something from Frontiers or Escape music,for me new AOR is very generic and the sound of many of them do not convice me.
    I think the perfect thing would be 50% of old albums reviews and 50% for new ones.
    Reply · · - April 17 2019 16:29:36
  • jefflynnefan
    Some of those old dinosaurs are making some money these days by touring. Kiss is doing really well and Jeff Lynne's ELO tour did really well money wise. And I'm sure some of the biggies are making out alright by touring. But yes, it's far and few. And our favorites are aging just like us. I think the site should stay open to reviewing new melodic cd's that are worthy. I have no problem with reading them. And who knows, I might buy a few. I agree with Dangerzone that most of the new stuff is faceless, bland and generic. But not all of them. But I will go with the flow, if George wants to tone it down here as far as new reviews go and concentrate on the past then that's okay too.

    UK's most streamed songs by the year :


    And now that George has mentioned "dinosaurs" , I think I'll watch a few episodes of " Cadillacs and Dinosaurs" !
    Reply · · - April 19 2019 03:11:04
  • reyno-roxx
    I try to keep up with stuff, but I find that while there are many complaints about the melodic rock scene's profile, in terms of releases there's probably been more material coming out from all kinds of sources than even back in the genre's peak. The problem is that it just isn't as memorable enough in comparison to what we all fell in love with back in the 70s and 80s. While I can recall every nuance of records I've grown up with, I struggle to get to grips with the majority of releases I've picked up released in the last twenty years. The exceptions to these being The Start's 'Shakedown!' album (which, though a superb album isn't from the genre we're really focussing on) and one or two others.
    To be honest, I get greater enjoyment from picking up albums from back in the day that I never gave much time for at the time - recent acquisitions being the two Artimus Pyle albums, for example - than any of the Frontiers releases.

    As for KISS, I last saw them live at Finsbury Park in 1997. That's how I like to remember them. Similarly, Bon Jovi in Europe in 1995.
    Reply · · - April 19 2019 17:35:39
  • Explorer
    This debate first surfaced (I think) with one of my end of year reviews. Whilst I`m not enamoured with the current scene there`s definitely a place for it here at GDM. I too echo the sentiments of other comments on this thread (bland, generic etc) but to ignore it would, I believe be of great detriment to this site.
    Reply · · - April 19 2019 20:53:54
  • bpdp3
    If you look at recent articles, the majority are of 2019 releases, so obviously the reviewers here enjoy doing those write-ups rather than the third Foghat album or whatever. And that’s fine!

    Yes, I prefer the albums of the 70s and 80s... always will... but those just happen to be MY “glory days”. The reviews of albums from that era are what I like best. I’m guessing many here feel the same.
    BUT....if reviewers are willing to try and find that type of ‘glory’ in current releases, who am I to argue? I may discover an album or song that becomes a favorite.

    It’s odd to think that ‘melodic rock’ may have had a shelf-life.
    Reply · · - April 20 2019 01:56:10
  • reyno-roxx
    Indeed, certainly there should be no reason why the reviews of newer material shouldn't keep on coming. One man's Poison is another man's Meatloaf so to speak and there is always the opportunity to check the stuff out. If it sticks or resonates then all the better!
    With regards to bands still touring, there would appear to be an awful lot of seriously over the top negativity towards the likes of KISS etc elsewhere on the net. And it's the same individuals banging on and on regarding the same subjects and effectively bullying others when they call them out.
    While I personally choose not to go to see KISS live now that's a decision based on the fact that I really don't want to see two other guys in the Criss and Frehley's costumes; however good they are as musicians. Also the price of tickets I find to be extremely extortionate for arena shows. But if others still enjoy the experience then all is good. My best mate, for example, has front of house tickets for KISS in Essen and he's really up for seeing the band play in Germany on their last tour.
    Reply · · - April 20 2019 07:45:49
  • englandashes
    Whilst melodic rock has always been my number one, always been interested in all genres of rock, whether that be black metal to westcoast, and everything in between, but last couple of months, seen The Lemon Twigs, In Flames And Avantasia And the best of Three is Avantasia. Why?, because it included various vocalists some way connected to melodic rock to various degrees, from Eric Martin to Ronny Atkins, to Bob Catley, every track seemed to connect with the audience, obviously Tobias Sammet realises this , and whether this is melodic, symphonic rock, still seems the most connected with the listener, very few left early, talking 3 hours, melodic rock is alive and kicking it just needs to be marketed and presented in the right way. Is this how many of the labels are presenting it, probably not, but they don’t have the likes of Valentine, Diving For Pearls, And Tall Stories as a foundation, but let’s face it how great these groups were, no one except us appreciated them. What probably annoys me the most is that Aor, melodic rock is never seen to be the critical acclaim it deserves, for instance if any hip magazine lists best 200 albums of all time, no mention of us, mainly they have no idea what Aor is, Classic Rock couldn’t even be bothered to put the right album covers to the right album. I love Aor but I spend most of my time exploring different genres, Manchester Orchestra, Thrice, Mando Diao, Matt Berry , A Silent Film. Nothing But Thieves, amd synth wave probably provided more enjoyment over the last couple of years.
    But group connected to our genre, must be The Struts...can’t think of any once else really, maybe H.E.A.T........, Nothing But Thieves with the songs Amsterdam and Take This Lonely Heart really are in a total different league and maybe should be embraced by melodic rock supporters, the last group and album that mixed rock and pop this successful was probably Gun with Taking on the world, all those years ago....
    Reply · · - April 21 2019 00:57:02
  • george_the_jack
    In my view, there's always been good and bad music - good and bad melodic rock. The problem is that these days the pelthora of music that hits the audience is of such quantity and magnitude that it has become very difficult for the listener to spin all those individual releases coming out constantly. As a result, one eventually ends up missing some good stuff. So baby gets thrown out with the bath water or as they say in my mother tongue, alongside dry grass, green grass also burns.

    Music is a means of artistic human expression, this has always been the case. What's different now is that musicians in the past could do it for a living, combining fulfilment of self-esoteric needs and enjoyment of their day to day job. That's not the case anymore. In fact that has not been the case for the past 20 years or so. That said, I've been coming across on social media and the internet many artists bemoaning about piracy, low sales of their albums, non-existent distribution and any other possible (and impossible) reasoning. Well, I say to all those aspiring rock stars, no one asked you to do what you're doing in the first place nor has anyone invited you (to pretend) to be a musician or artist. That was your choice. So be it. Deal with it and either survive within this context or go home and search for other endeavours. There's no money in the business anymore, especially in our favourite genre and that's no news or secret. It's a reality we're all aware of.

    Along with the rise of technology and the evolution of computers and electronics, the recording of a song has become accessible to everyone. Any of us today has a neighbour who utilises a computer, a console and -doubted- a legit copy of Cubase or other recording software. As I've already said numerous times in here and elsewhere, in todays music everyone demands but hardly puts any real effort, sacrifice or money on the basis of what they demand. Music is being recorded offhand in everyone's home recording '''''studio'''' lacking the resources or professional touch and even worse it's being written on the fly with no character, passion or distinct personality in a formulaic cookie-cutter manner. Under these circumstances, there are still a few romantics (dinosaurs or not) doing it the right way (appointing real musicians or even sessionists, engineers, paying for recording and mastering of their work) all this for the love of music. They spend money, time and talent on it yet being ignored or overlooked due to getting themselves mixed and lost in a sea of mediocrity.

    In the past, there was the Record Company barrier. You had to pass that barrier so the professionals would acknowledge your talent and subsequently grant you a record deal. This way the audience somehow consumed the various music names pre-filtered by people with experience that were able to distinguish values such as real talent, image, looks, identity. Today with all those indie releases every artist is self-selected and promoted and being presented in front of our ears and eyes. Unfiltered, for us to evaluate.

    From where I sit, there's only one way out of this: Support what is good and ignore what should be ignored. This way record companies (the few ones that remain in the game) might get the message and start favouring quality over quantity. Who knows, they might as well understand they won't make any money out of it no matter what, so they're better off continuing what they do on a hobbyist basis. An approach taken by every record collector I know, anyway.... Why shouldn't this also apply the other way around?

    I don't want to sound smoochy or didactic but honestly I will live to see another day without 99% of the artists and labels that float around today. Glorydaze can focus on supporting the good and worthwhile stuff too. There's no need to review every single new release or need to say a good word for any other than those that deserve it. I'm not sure many bands out there deserve a mention anyway.
    Reply · · - April 21 2019 13:02:34
  • gdazegod
    Good points GTJ. A very good read. Thanks.
    Reply · · - April 21 2019 23:50:36
  • gdazegod
    Following on from what GTJ mentions.. You should see some of the outrageous requests that budding musical artists demand when requesting work to help them. Talk about prima Donna's. And then when go to their site, it's like z-rated rap/hip-hop. No talent, vocal or musical.
    Reply · · - April 25 2019 07:55:49
  • Nick C
    Nick C
    I think there are bands that buck the trend like the aforementioned Cats in Space I also think there is plenty of interesting music out there but not necessarily AOR/Mel Rock field. The thing about Cats is they seem to have an ability to stretch beyond the narrow, unimaginative road that the bulk of newish bands follow. I'll admit it might not be "brand new" but at least it sounds like they have taken time and put some thought and care over their songs it's like they are stretching themselves and their talent. I know The Darkness are no longer a new band but I'm so looking forward to their new album later this year...too many AOR/Mel bands are po-faced in their delivery and have the old humour bypass firmly entrenched....I mean how many more pictures do I have to see of bands trying to look mean and moody while staring at the camera. I'd rather buy an album by a bunch of people who look like they're goof balls having fun rather than trying to be "cool" and "tough" - they need to start being themselves rather than what they think they should be/look/sound like to fit in with the crowd.
    Reply · · - April 27 2019 14:25:24
  • jeffrey343
    I, of course, have a lot of thoughts on this. And I'll get to them eventually, once I get ahead on a ton of work stuff that's taking a lot of my free time. But my condensed version is this - I really like the modern scene. There have been a lot of albums over the past decade that I really love. I am trying to figure out my "Best of 2010-19" list, and there are a lot of great albums that will get left off. The sound has evolved, and the delivery method has moved from radio & MTV to streaming services & YouTube, and I buy albums online rather than at a record store. And I can carry my entire music collection on my smartphone and play any song at any time. But, I still enjoy discovering new songs and albums and artists as much as I ever did.

    More thoughts eventually, but think of this as a teaser...
    Reply · · - April 28 2019 20:10:36
  • jeffrey343
    I still don't have time for one of my verbose and rambling posts. But as I sit here listening to the new Crazy Lixx and First Signal albums and trying to force myself to give a second spin to Restless Spirits and The Brink (definitely more a reflection on the first two than the second two), I once again think that there is a LOT of really good music coming out these days. I also keep thinking of my upcoming "Best of 2010-19" list and how it's gonna be tough to rank so many albums I really enjoy.

    One analogy I've found - cheeseburgers. I love cheeseburgers. Can't eat them as often as I could in my youth, especially with fries and endless soda, though. In the 80s, I loved McDonald's and Burger King and other fast-food burger joints. Now, at least in the U.S., there are lots of "fast casual" burger places, with better quality of ingredients and cooked while you wait. And they're better burgers. Now, I still like McDonald's just fine, maybe not Burger King as much. And I've found some other fast-food places that weren't in my neck of the woods 30+ years ago, like Whataburger and In-N-Out. But it's hard to beat the newer places like Five Guys and Smashburger. I can draw comparisons to the music scene like that. I have great memories of going to McDonald's and Burger King with friends and my girlfriend (now wife), sharing burgers and laughs. Just like we all listened to the same music on the radio and our car stereos and home stereos and MTV. Everyone knew the same songs and artists. Now I get my burgers usually by myself or with the family. Just like I hear all this new music by myself or by playing it in the car with the family (when they let me, that is). I doubt that many people I know in real life are aware of the artists and songs I play. I'll occasionally share a link on Facebook, but I bet most people just scroll by. I'm glad I'm part of an online community like this, where we can discuss this music.

    Well, you got a bit of verbosity and rambling. Hope that holds you for a while...
    Reply · · - May 18 2019 22:01:25


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