Saturday, August 02, 2014

Exclusion Contracts for Small Performance Rooms: Earn Loyalty

Imagine the reaction among the young musicians and their fans if BMI/SESAC/ASCAP (a songwriter can only join one) if these organizations announced jointly that they have set a lower tier for rooms that host music events from which they will not collect performance royalties. No monitoring required other than the room submit an application for exclusion based on real income to the room that is updated every year. Past a certain amount of income, the room agrees to pay the fees without legal recourse.

The Bigs have a terrible reputation which they deserve. The Pirates are doing terrible damage to the industry and deserve to be shut down with a vengeance. Between them is an ad industry and tech industry that doesn't give a flying frik because all they have to do is keep doing what they are doing and they pick up enough jacks to win. If this is to change for the betterment of the artists, the collection agencies have to reform their policies to allow new acts to emerge and still want to be part of those societies. Conventional wisdom in the big centers like LA, Nashville and New York is these acts have no choice if they want to be paid. They aren't being paid anyway. So they have zero to lose. Why not take another tack and give them something to gain: earn as they go. Show them genuine respect instead of dismissing them as second raters. Try inclusion instead of exclusion, big tent instead of a curated elite. Elites emerge organically. Talent doesn't have to be curated except by its audience. Curators are not gatekeepers; they are expediters and if they take that role, the us vs them diminishes. If the collection agencies stop robbing piggy banks, the antagonism (which is real and intensifying) diminshes. It is replaced by loyalty. It is replaced by good will.

And the pirate industries fear this because they know if the kids, the new generation decides to throw in with the curators and the collectors, the pirates are done because the web has always been viral and some viruses immunize. Give it some thought.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tired Of Chasing Rainbows

From the vault, this was our first song to get decent airplay in the local stations. Made on a Fostex quarter inch eight with one good mic and a lot of chutzpah, we were having fascinating times. From Ground Level Sound, The Evolution of Cool, Tired Of Chasing Rainbows.

Open Mics: Karma Bakeria

Tonight I attended open mic night at The Karma Bakeria in Fayetteville Tennessee.   My pastor and friend, Michael Stewart used to tell me about this coffee house and said I should go play there.   Unfortunately Mike passed away before I did finally go but hey, Mike was right.   Go north from Huntsville on 231/431 across the state line, past Park City and into the metropolis of Fayetteville, just past the old courthouse on the town square half a block on the right.  Ya can't miss it.   It's a nice room, good pastries, salads, sandwiches and locally ground brew that will pick you up and slap you down.  IOW, a great stop if you're headed up to the distillery or just like to ramble around these small towns that are still genuine Southern jewels.

The open mic is hosted by Taylor Hoch and Jay.   Taylor is a professional songwriter and singer with a barrelling tenor, smooth finger acousic picking and simply excellent songs.  Jay plays electric blues, tasty slide and together they are the kind of act you really want to see anchoring an open mic because anyone who follows them better be good or at least trying real hard.  It was a privilege to follow them but I made sure someone else did first because... well, ahma chicken.

All open mic nights, even The Bluebird, that I've played over the years have about the same distribution of talent.   Some people are good; some are there.  Out of ten, three acts will be stellar, four will be journeymen and three will be getting started.   That's healthy and that's why it's free.  Remember to buy enough consumables to keep the room open and enjoy the original sounds and "obscure covers'.

I remain amazed at how much good songwriting is bursting from the local countryside like wildflowers.   I don't know if it's the times, the fact that coffee houses are back, or the music business spreading out of the old major centers like Nashville, or the web giving access.   All of the above probably, but it is happening and it is magic while it lasts.  If we can just get the BMI/SESAC/ASCAP collectors to stop mugging the small rooms like this, it will last longer.  So, if you are someone whom they listen to, give them the wordL  QUIT ROBBING PIGGY BANKS. 

As for me, playing Gentle On My Mind and Arlo Guthrie, reciting Victor Buono, finger picking nylon again, just letting myself be the guy I used to be before I had a "real career" is comfort for my troubled soul these days.   I have no idea how we're going to pay the bills now that the day gig is short on 'natch and writing me out of the script.   I'll resume worrying about that tomorrow or when I wake up in the middle of the night as I usuall do.   But tonight, it's good to be me again.  I like that guy,  He was fun.   People liked him.   He had his own sound.   He had a reason to get up and he had a craft he loved.   So, thanks to Taylor and Jay and the fine folks at Karma Bakeria.  I plan to go back.  Maybe next time I'll play some Bach too.   Over the top, but heck, if I got away with King Tut, I can get away with Johann.


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