The Dark Tower Movie – Spoiler Free Review

For the uninitiated, The Dark Tower Movie is based on the Dark Tower series of books by Stephen King.  It details the quest of Roland Deschain, the last Gunslinger in mid-world on his quest toward the tower and in pursuit of The Man in Black.  It is a mix of western; sci-fi; fantasy and a honestly a sh*t ton of fun to read.

The book series has a legion of highly devoted and passionate fans, and I am one of them.  I even started a series of music based on the books.   The series utilizes many elements found in other King works such as, but not limited to The Shining, IT, The Stand, and many others which expands on the multiverse of Stephen Kings works.

When I first heard many years ago, that there was an attempt to bring this epic series to the big screen, I was very intrigued and asked myself many, many times “How the hell are they going to do that!”.

After passing through the hands of J.J. Abrams and then to Ron Howard, it was noted that the vision was to develop several movies and a TV series to completely flesh out the story.  I thought that was a good choice.  You could use the TV series to reveal much of the back story with Movies detailing the main action parts.  Although the majority of the idea was scrapped, there are still plans to have a TV series filling in some of the back story with Roland and Jake in 2018.  You can read more on the development of the movie and the franchise here.

I started listening to the Soundtrack for the movie which was composed by one of my new favorite film score producers Junkie XL, and LOVED IT!.

With all of that said, I was able to go see the movie yesterday at 19:19.  I had already lowered my expectations way way down, as I had kept up on the progress of the movie for years.  It was in development hell, test screenings didn’t prove positive, and all of the die-hard fans could just not accept that this was not a direct adaptation of the books.  Speaking of direct adaptation, I KNEW it wasn’t.  I knew it was another spin of the wheel, and no I’m not going to tell you what that means.  You’ll have to find out for yourself, or actually read the books.  I accepted that, and just wanted to see a good version of a movie based on The Dark Tower universe. The reviews were finally allowed to be given after 10 PM CST the day before. A definitive sign that the studio didn’t have high hopes for the movie.  And most of them were not good.  The reviews were mainly from those who ARE familiar with the works, and upset that the movie doesn’t encompass the scope of them.  Let’s just face it, you CAN’T truly encompass what The Dark Tower is in one single movie.  And to top it off, the movie that was delivered was only a typical 88 minutes long.

I went with my wife Kayla.  Kayla has not read the Dark Tower series, but she is a fan of many of Kings works.  She was a virgin in the world of The Dark Tower.  For me, she was my litmus test on how someone unfamiliar or only slightly familiar with the series would enjoy the movie.

Her response?

She liked it.  She thought it was an enjoyable movie.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.  She felt the movie gave her “enough” of an understanding of what was going on, to follow along with the movies plot.  She also feels (herself as well) that it might spark some interest in those who are uninitiated to seek out the books and give them a good read.

My response?

I honestly am unsure how I felt about it.  There were plenty of times Kayla would punch at me, or tell me to quiet down due to the amount of loud sighing I was doing.

I tried to pull myself out of the “fan” mode, and try to view the movie as someone unfamiliar with the stories.  To just enjoy it for the movie that it was.  And in some aspects, I did.  But there were many MORE times I was just saying to myself “Geez!  You can’t try to make the audience feel this way, you haven’t given them enough reason too!” or “For goodness sakes, NO!  You don’t just all of a sudden throw that in there”.  And in some cases thinking to myself “I see where you are trying to go with this character, and how you are trying to get the audience hooked on this aspect, but it’s not time.”

I planned on giving a quick spoiler free review of the movie last night after seeing it, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t tell if I freaking’ hated it, or even though I THOUGHT I had lowered my expectations enough, I hadn’t and couldn’t get passed my super fanboy mode to accept and watch what we were given with a unbiased critical observation to determine if, as a movie alone, was it interesting to the general audience.

I think I need to go see it again with a different view.  At this time, I’m thinking “It was an ok movie, but it’s not my Dark Tower”.  You can tell it was rushed.  You can tell they had a hard time assembling what we got.

If you are a fan of the series, I doubt you will be highly accepting of what we got but I could be wrong.  I honestly don’t want to tell you, that you should see this movie or not.  I think there will be different views from many different fans.

I WANTED this movie to capture my heart like the books have, and I think that was my biggest problem.  I wanted more.  I wanted a LOT more.  Yet I remind myself, there are other worlds than these, and Ka is a wheel.

PROS

  • I REALLY like Matthew McConaughey as the Man in black.
  • Tom Taylor as Jake.  Great job.  The kid has some acting chops.

CONS

  • Idris Elba, while I admire as an actor, I didn’t really care for as Roland.
  • WAY too rushed and short.  I think it could have been a way better movie if they included just a bit more character development to try to bring in more breadth of the characters from the books.  There is a ton of exposition that could have occurred (And this is something you really don’t normally want in a movie) creatively within the presentation we were given.  What we got was what appears to be “sudden” changes of heart and tone throughout.  And I don’t think it would add too much to the length of the film.
  • More of the same, you have “brief” statements about what the tower is all about, but nothing to truly make the audience understand WHY it’s so important.

Overall it was “Meh, well it didn’t suck” maybe I’ll give it a C-

 

The facts about my streaming income and why I have a lot of respect for Lady Gaga.

I had a friend ask me the following question on Facebook and I think they were a bit shocked by my response.

The question was “If I played your music 24×7 for a month, how much would you actually get?”

And my answer was, “maybe $40 dollars“.

Well, that’s the direct answer to the question.  The full answer was this: “At an average of 0.004 cent(s) a stream, maybe $40 dollars. That is if you were to stream it on Spotify or Apple Music. For satellite radio, it would depend on the station and how often

If I figure an average of 4 minutes per song , that’s 15 songs an hour, which equates to 360 songs a day, for a total of 10,800 during a 30 day period. At 4/10 of a cent on average that’s about $43. Then of course the distributor gets its portion. So… about $40.

Now, the average that I came up with is the pooled average of the major streaming providers, such as Spotify and Apple Music.  Some pay more, some pay less, and it all depends on the duration of the play itself, along with if the consumer was a paid service consumer or using the free platform.  Overall it varies, but on average, from all the streaming sales I receive from all of the platforms, it comes out to be about 0.004 cents per stream.

If you take that average and apply it to my top song on Spotify as shown below:

delme

 

You can see that through Spotify, my song V Feeling from Ambient Highways has a total of 1,768 plays for an approximate net income of $7.00 US dollars. For what it’s worth, as of April of this year, Ambient Highways, which is one of my best received album, has only netted me a total of about $250 US Dollars via Streaming, Digital Downloads, etc. across all platforms since it’s release in July of 2015.   I’m basing that value on actual sales data from Streaming and Digital downloads as of April 2017 from my sales analysis chart, and adding perhaps $40 to it that comes from people who have subscribed to me on Bandcamp, and a couple of other donations from folks.

I’m not detailing this to whine or complain, I’m just detailing some facts in case your curious. We are entering a world where the majority of music consumption is going to be wholly based on streaming services.  In fact, I’d say we are technically already there.

That isn’t to say though, that there isn’t money to be made from streaming revenue.  For instance, let’s take someone like Lady Gaga.  Use the following snapshot from Spotify as a reference:

delme.png

So the title track from her album “The Cure” released on Spotify only a month and a half ago has brought in 79,160,215 streams.  At $0.004 cents per stream on average (Of course her average may be completely different depending on her labels deal with Spotify, etc), that comes to a total of about $316,640 US Dollars.  That’s almost 1/3 of a million dollars on ONE SONG ALONE after ONLY a month and a half.  I’m sure that’s not the total net that Lady Gaga is getting from that.  There is certainly a large portion that goes to the label, and surely she has to pay for her staff, etc.  But let’s say just pretend that on a pretty solid guess, she’s netting about 1/3rd of that herself or $100K US.  Not bad for only a month and a half, right?   It’s details like this that make me question the reasoning behind some other major players not wanting their music on the streaming services (such as ehem, Taylor Swift).  I mean c’mon… In a streaming world, there is definitely some income to be made from it.

So now let’s take the top 5 songs and sum up their stream counts as of today for Lady Gaga.  Again using the image above as reference, that’s 552,374,224 streams (552 million folks!) at an estimated average of $0.004 cents per stream equates to $2,209,496.90 in streaming revenue from Spotify.  Let’s apply the 1/3 factor to take care of her label and other expenses, which comes to $736,498.  Nearly 1 million US dollars on just the top 5 from Spotify.

Spotify was officially launched in 2008, and I’m unsure when Lady Gaga first showed up on the platform, but let’s assume at the same time. That’s also about the time that her album “The Fame” was released, in which included Poker Face which is one of the top 5 albums.    Let’s take that total of $2,209,496.90 from the top 5 songs, divided by the number of years Spotify has been officially launched and you come up with an average of $245,499 per year of streaming income. (Note, I’m positive that in the early years there wasn’t that much generated, and it has only increased over time, it’s just an average.).  Apply the safe guestimate of 1/3 that goes direct to her and you have $81,833 on average per year of estimated personal income.  Remember that’s ONLY for the top 5 songs, and ONLY from Spotify.

Ok, so I’m not a real fan of Lady Gaga.  Sure she has some catchy tunes here and there, but I’m generally not a big fan of pop music, but you have to have some respect for the fact that she’s certainly getting some solid income from streaming services.

Ok, so now with all of that said, at this stage in my music career I know I’m not going to make a living just by getting my music on the streaming platforms TODAY.  And I may never amass the number of streams that Lady Gaga receives, but I certainly won’t discount an opportunity to be heard on any streaming platform such as Spotify.  You never know WHERE you’ll find your audience.

In the mean time, I’m working on getting my music licensed for TV and Film, and if you are a follower of mine, you know my ultimate goal is to compose music for film for a living.  I’m just working on it one day at a time, and one thing at a time.  Always saying “Yes” until I can’t anymore.  You never know where that sudden spike in listeners may come from.  I have to think of creative ways that allow folks to help support these endeavors.  For instance, check out some of the ways you can help support me via my support page here!

As an artist, you are just going to have to accept the fact that this is the world these days, and there is certainly an income to be made from streaming music.  Would you rather make a fraction of a cent off of a stream of your music, rather than nothing at all from your music being pirated and given away free without your permission?

Take a step back, and look at the big picture.  Don’t give up hope.

I’ll take that fraction of a cent any day.

– Keith

 

Attending the John Carpenter Live Retrospective Tonight!

Tonight I have the amazing opportunity to go see John Carpenter and his band perform at the Majestic theatre here in Dallas, TX.  I’m also participating in the VIP Meet and Greet to meet him, his son Cody Carpenter and the rest of the band.

Suffice it to say, I’m super excited for this!   Carpenter has been one of my major inspirations in life and my horror / Halloween styled album March of the Inanimate was my attempt at a homage to his style of music.

So in case you missed it, I wanted to let you know that I’ve been working on a follow album to  March of the Inanimate code named “Shapes“.  I know after attending the concert, I’m going to be inspired even more for more work on Shapes.

Shapes 1

I’m always working on new material, and I want to get a head start this year to possibly have a new Horror / Halloween themed album ready for the 2016 Halloween season. When I released March of the Inanimate, I unfortunately didn’t get it released till nearly the end of October 2014. I always knew I wanted to do a follow up album to it, but this time ensure it was ready “before” or right at the starting of the Halloween season.

I can tell you, the name of the album will NOT be called “Shapes”. Again, that’s the code name I’ve selected. I DO have the concept in mind for what the album is going to be about, and I have some other cool news about it that I will share shortly before it’s finalized and pre-launch begins (Sometime around the middle of September). What I have been working on, is some general themes that will be used throughout the album, and today I’d like to share with you a couple of drafts of the main themes.

These tracks are of course very early drafts with only the basic melodies and outline.

If you are a fan of John Carpenter, you’ll know that “The Shape” is the pseudonym for Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise. It could also be applied to various elements from Carpenter films such as the androids in Halloween III or the leper victims of the Elizabeth Dane under the cover of The Fog. I would say that the style of this album may be closer to the sound you hear in The Fog soundtrack, or The Thing. You be the judge.

So give the couple of tracks in the Shapes playlist a spin!

I hope you enjoy this early preview of things to come! And be sure to let me know your thoughts! They are ALWAYS appreciated!

Keith Richie