San Francisco Chronicle


Monday, May 19, 1997 · Page A22 ©1997 San Francisco Chronicle

Support the Arts

BECAUSE HOUSE SPEAKER Newt Gingrich needs to renew his conservative credentials, Americans once again must live through another effort to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts.

Two years ago, House leaders cut NEA funding by 39 percent. They vowed to eventually abolish the agency, and Gingrich, who worried some of his cohorts when he had a friendly meeting with actor Alec Baldwin, an NEA advocate, is making noises about doing just that.

A month ago, Gingrich called on the ``famous and rich'' to set up their own endowment with 1 percent of their gross income.

But he and the other conservatives are fighting a phantom enemy.

The controversial -- many say pornographic -- photography by Robert Mapplethorpe set off the furor against the NEA, even though the grant to Mapplethorpe represented only one of 4,000 grants that overwhelmingly tend to support mainstream programs in music, dance, art, design, theater and other creative endeavors.

The debate has changed so much from the Mapplethorpe days that Representative Wally Herger, R-Chico, cited a $60,500 grant to the California Indian Basket Weavers Association as his reason for opposing the NEA. The congressman, said a spokesman, ``does not believe that in an era of tight federal dollars, basket weaving should have a top priority in Congress.''

Herger apparently dismisses the importance of preserving America's artistic culture and heritage, one of the main goals of the NEA. And that one grant is hardly a top priority. The entire NEA budget of $99 million represents only one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget -- 38 cents per American.

President Clinton has proposed an NEA budget of $136 million for 1997-1998, and even that does not catch up to the allocation for 1992. Besides generating revenue, helping the tourist industry, promoting creativity in every aspect of life and introducing the arts to children who might otherwise be denied such an opportunity, government financing of the arts begets private dollars. A dollar of NEA money typically generates $11 from state or local governments, private donors, corporations or foundations, according to state arts officials.

Conservatives should know from their foundering efforts to dismantle such other cultural institutions as the National Endowment for the Humanities that the public believes that knowledge of the arts contributes to producing good citizens. The government investment is small for such a huge payoff.


Mel Martin unedited response

Partially printed on May 21, 1997


  

Editor- Your editorial concerning Gingrich's latest assault on the NEA was, perhaps, too little too late. In 1994, the NEA was restructured with about 40% of it's previous budget. Some of these cuts were restored but the damage had been done. The entire Fellowship program was wiped out as were the various distinctions in genre. All art forms were thrown in together including the area I am involved with, jazz. Individual artists can no longer receive direct performing or recording support. The large arts organizations are still being funded. This has left many of us out in the cold as these organizations are also trying to make up for the lower levels of funding by taking more commercial approaches and fewer risks. This has profoundly impacted the level of artistic accomplishment in this country. If the goal was to create more beauracracies instead of high art, then the current NEA is a huge success. Perhaps the NEA should be disassembled and we will find out how much the American people are willing to pay for their symphony orchestras and ballets and other favored art forms. My fear is that once the NEA is gone, it won't be back but the fact is it will never be the same.

 
Mel Martin
Artistic Director - Bebop and Beyond
 

Freedom of Expression

Printed on Wednsday, July 23, 1997

The issue of arts funding is not one of finance as there has been precious little money spent on the arts in this country especially in comparison with other civilized nations. The issue is purely one of free speech. Don't believe for one minute those that want to disassemble the NEA because the country cannot afford it and shouldn't be in the "business" of "supporting entertainment" or that it is being run by "the culturally elite." The essence of any art form is freedom of expression. This is supposedly the country where that is an inalienable right granted us by our forefathers. What more appropriate use of government funding than to support artists so that they may be free to express themselves without the constraints of the commercial marketplace where the lowest common denominator becomes the standard and is often mislabeled art. Government money is used for all kinds of things, many of which are extremely dubious in terms of raising the consciousness and spirit of the country. The NEA should not be destroyed but celebrated. The money needs to go directly to the people that make the art, not just the biggest most politically connected bureaucracies.

 

Mel Martin
Artistic Director
Bebop and Beyond

"The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation's purpose - and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization."

John F. Kennedy


A final request to President Clinton to propose a restructure of the National Endowment for the Arts.

1/26/00

Mr. President;

In 1994 you did help save the NEA from being dismantled by the Republicans and that was a good thing. However, they did restructure it in such a way that only the large presenters with big bureaucratic organizations can gain any real support for the arts. Individual artists have essentially been left by the wayside with the elimination of categories and fellowship awards. Panels are currently made up of mixtures of so called arts experts and there is no conscensus as to their expertise on various categories. Small arts organizations are also not fairly funded. I request that you offer a proposal to bring back the previous type of guidelines and categories and panel structuring that allowed for anyone with talent to receive significant funding for their artistic endeavors as judged by an appropriate panel of peers.

I offer this sugestion as someone that received a number of NEA awards under the previous structure in the field of jazz. These were recordings of the music of Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie (Mr. Gillespie's last studio recording) by the group Bebop and Beyond and a solo recording of the music of Benny Carter with Mr. Carter participating. These recordings were widely acknowledged as important contributions to the preservation and extension of the jazz art form. I also received a fellowship award that allowed me to perform and tour with the great jazz pianist Kenny Barron. Those kinds of projects cannot take place under the present structure. I urge you to restructure the National Endowment for the Arts as part of your final legacy to the country.

Mel Martin
Artistic director of Bebop and Beyond
Voice your opinion

http://www.whitehouse.org


 

From:
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 12:59:18 EDT
Subject: Shityn Marsalis
To:

Letters to the Editor
Jazz Times 2/8/00

 

Dear Sir,

Most musicians no longer read the trade magazines but the audience does.
I think this is a mistake because musicians have lost sight of the fact that
the audience believes much of what is being written. This being the case, I
felt that I must comment on the "Future Views" interview with Wynton Marsalis in the March 2000 issue of JazzTimes.
By his words, Mr. Marsalis has indeed proven to be "intensely focused" on his own agenda and quickly dismissive of music that falls outside that
realm. Undoubtedly, the magazine and he will get much flak because of his
revision of jazz history, trashing of other musicians, (including those that
helped him gain credibility on his own first recorded efforts), and his
dismissal of others, experiments and explorations as "bullshit."
Many of those who have the audacity to disagree with Marsalis have the
tendency to be so aghast (and often rightly so) by his misinformation and
attitude that, their criticisms, if printed at all, often tend to degenerate
into name calling. This often has the effect of making themselves appear
bitter, the result being that Marsalis is given even more press.
An unfair criticism of Marsalis is, in my opinion, the constant barbs
directed at him for his choice of programs to be presented at Lincoln Center.
He is simply doing exactly what he was hired to do with the money that is
given to this huge not-for-profit cultural organization; that of documenting
and exposing the music of the past. The question is, why is it that what is
basically a repertory company and a museum of American culture is now looked upon as the standard for and even important to the evolution of jazz? And how is it that "past" has become to be synonymous with "future"?
The proclivity of the press has traditionally been toward
sensationalism; hence, reams of print and seemingly unending series of
magazine covers devoted to every scatological statement from Marsalis and his seeming compulsion for exposing his onus.* Controversy sells. and the more negative the better.
For almost 20 years the media has been fostering the top gun mentality;
the promotion of one lone soul as not only the "most accomplished of his
generation" but also the spokesman for all generations. Albeit, perhaps a
long time in coming, it is inevitable that the hype will be discovered to be
just another case of the "emperor,s new clothes" as it was with Y2K, the
Lewinsky Scandal and the statement that jazz is "back to the centerstage in
American culture" when record sales are down to less than 2% of the market.
Time may prove Marsalis will have the most to suffer...not only from the
hype, but also from his apparent glee in consuming his comestibles in the
same location that he deposits his excreta. History will judge his
accomplishments alongside of those of the likes of Armstrong, Ellington,
Parker, Mingus, Coltrane, Coleman, Rollins and Basie--- to name just a few.
None of these or any other jazz artists, with the possible exceptions of
Jelly Roll Morton and Paul Whiteman, were presumptuous enough to "define" what jazz is or be so willing to take on the mantle of being its pundit and standard.
Concerning Marsalis, statements: by trivializing and denigrating the concepts and contributions of Parker ("jamming on the bandstand" and the acting on the paradigm that "improvisation is the lifeblood of jazz") and practically everyone else who has ever played jazz music, including his heroes, he either misses or is consciously skipping the point...that these jams (which were interestingly "historically never a part of jazz music) gave rise to all the music's theoretical and formal concepts. In this statement he reveals his disdain for on the job training. Does the importance of apprenticeship which has always been recognized as being indispensable to becoming expert in any art form no longer apply?
If so, this is an observation that can only be perceived as coming from
a lack of experience. Media hype and CBS by canonizing him from the age of 18, often to the point of intolerance of contrary opinions and the blocking
and/or shelving the efforts of others (In these safe, cyberthink times,
having a contrasting opinion to that of the status quo is tantamount to
having a bad attitude----it does not compute!) played down the importance of
apprenticeship and consequently robbed Marsalis of his. Here was an example
of a promising, capable, original, naive talent for reasons of
sensationalism and greed, being beguiled and distracted from aspirations of
being a creative artist to those of assuming the role of a master craftsman.
Marsalis should be more pitied than censured for this. Who, at 18 wouldn,t
take the money?
I have over 20,000 CDs and LPs in my collection consisting of virtually
everyone ever purported to play jazz in America...from the ODJB of 1917 to
now...in addition to other kinds of music. I have hundreds of scores and
arrangements. I went to Berklee and studied composition for four years. I
and many others like me can analyze, categorize and calculate our hunkers
off, but I think that most of us agree that from all these things one can
only grasp the fundamentals. I am unclear as to what Marsalis, concept of
the verb "to educate" really is. Does it go beyond mere programming of
techniques and analysis?
I count my true education from the time I played with Ray Charles, a four
year apprenticeship with Charles Mingus and the last 30 years on the road
playing for all kinds of audiences. I am sure that I speak for many others
who have had the same kinds of experiences.

More quotes and disagreements:
"...jazz music has never been developed on any level by any popular form that
broke off from jazz."
So much for the songs of Porter, Gershwin, Kern and others----basically a
large part of the repertoire...including his own.

"....one thing about European music is that it,s still being played in all
of its glory all over the world...."
European music subsists in "all its glory" due to funding by corporations
and societies; the same funding Marsalis covets and receives.

"Some musicians all want to imitate hip-hop and all that other shit. Why
would we want to imitate that?"
For better or worse, that "shit" is here and is part of the soundtrack for
our times. Is the only way to incorporate a new influence or for that matter
any influence in jazz is by imitation? Hmmm....what does this imply?

"....(before Parker) it was always the arrangement and a little bit of solo."
True (those pesky piano players excepted!), if we are to believe that the
3 minute recording is the absolute testament as to the nature of the
performance practices of the time. Again, there is the problem of those
pesky piano players.

How does one learn the correct history and find out whether Marsalis,
statements and prejudices hold water?
LET HE WHO HAS EARS; HEAR!
1) Go see live jazz in venues other than museums, opera houses and supper
clubs.
2) Listen. Listen to everybody---not what you are told is hip----
3) Compare. Listen to Marsalis, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Don Cherry,
etc. back to back Indeed, listen to musicians of every instrument this way.
4) Choose the musicians that YOU like and support them.
How do you find out about various players?
If you like Pops, chances are that you will hear Earl Hines---he had a
big band with Dizzy ---- to Bird--- to Miles----to Trane----to Dolphy.
Everything is connected. After all of this, if one wishes to make a career in
music he/she must seek out a master and learn from hands on experience from
the maestro,s side. Leonardo did (Da Vinci, not DiCaprio).
By acknowledging the contributions only of Armstrong and Ellington and
that, from secondhand experience, Marsalis coming from an understandably
limited perspective continues to exploit his visibility to present gross
distortions of the record; the result being that he is more and more
influential in making people forget about the true jazz history. One is
reminded of "music appreciation" courses where the overemphasis on Bach,
Beethoven and Brahms made people forget or minimize composers like Faure, Ives, Spohr and all of music before Bach.
Marsalis seems to think that he alone can take jazz to a time that never
truly existed----before solos and improvisation. In this area, I consider his
motives suspect, especially since he has decided that he wants the world to
know and accept him as a major composer. A composer that lives by the
"rules" and by what is accepted in the academy as composition, would
naturally see improvisation and too much "feeling" by the musicians as a
threat. If he really understood Ellington, he would know that Duke wrote
charts to feature specific soloists, styles and orchestrated and wrote the
inner parts based on his musicians individual timbres and idiosyncrasies.
It is unfortunate that Marsalis, who is in the position to fulfill all of
his own fantasies, and, because of his coddling by the press could do so
much to expose the music and its practitioners in positive terms, chooses to
promote such a narrow agenda and through his forum chooses to do it by means of Orwellian gobbledygook so often in four-letter words---- the latter
usually a sign of a limited vocabulary. It's more than unfortunate; it's
just plain boring.
This is America after all. Marsalis should be able to say anything he
wants. However, by choosing to unceasingly present his plans for the "final
solution" to the jazz problem to the point of presenting them as THE CORRECT ONES as if they are from the mouth of GOD to the exclusion and/or neglect of those of others, and by promoting one opinionated individual as the beginning and end of everything, the media (who are often only to eager to promote verbal onanism) not only polarizes the jazz community but as is so in the examples of Kenny G., Madonna, Ricky Martin and the Spice Girls raises mediocrity to formerly unimagined heights.

(*onus----correct spelling---means: burden)

Of course, only about 5% of this was published!
Jack Walrath



This is an unedited transcript of Courtney Love's speech to the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference, given in New York on May 16.

Please forward this to any musicians you know:

 

 

Today I want to talk about piracy and music. What is piracy? Piracy is the act of stealing an artist's work without any intention of paying for it. I'm not talking about Napster-type software.

I'm talking about major label recording contracts.

I want to start with a story about rock bands and record companies, and do some recording-contract math:

This story is about a bidding-war band that gets a huge deal with a 20 percent royalty rate and a million-dollar advance. (No bidding-war band ever got a 20 percent royalty, but whatever.) This is my "funny" math based on some reality and I just want to qualify it by saying I'm positive it's better math than what Edgar Bronfman Jr. [the president and CEO of Seagram, which owns Polygram] would provide.

What happens to that million dollars?

They spend half a million to record their album. That leaves the band with $500,000. They pay $100,000 to their manager for 20 percent commission. They pay $25,000 each to their lawyer and business manager.

That leaves $350,000 for the four band members to split. After $170,000 in taxes, there's $180,000 left. That comes out to $45,000 per person.

That's $45,000 to live on for a year until the record gets released.

The record is a big hit and sells a million copies. (How a bidding-war band sells a million copies of its debut record is another rant entirely, but it's based on any basic civics-class knowledge that any of us have about cartels. Put simply, the antitrust laws in this country are basically a joke, protecting us just enough to not have to re-name our park service the Phillip Morris National Park Service.)

So, this band releases two singles and makes two videos. The two videos cost a million dollars to make and 50 percent of the video production costs are recouped out of the band's royalties.

The band gets $200,000 in tour support, which is 100 percent recoupable.

The record company spends $300,000 on independent radio promotion. You have to pay independent promotion to get your song on the radio; independent promotion is a system where the record companies use middlemen so they can pretend not to know that radio stations -- the unified broadcast system -- are getting paid to play their records.

All of those independent promotion costs are charged to the band.

Since the original million-dollar advance is also recoupable, the band owes $2 million to the record company.

If all of the million records are sold at full price with no discounts or record clubs, the band earns $2 million in royalties, since their 20 percent royalty works out to $2 a record.

Two million dollars in royalties minus $2 million in recoupable expenses equals ... zero!

How much does the record company make?

They grossed $11 million.

It costs $500,000 to manufacture the CDs and they advanced the band $1 million. Plus there were $1 million in video costs, $300,000 in radio promotion and $200,000 in tour support.

The company also paid $750,000 in music publishing royalties.

They spent $2.2 million on marketing. That's mostly retail advertising, but marketing also pays for those huge posters of Marilyn Manson in Times Square and the street scouts who drive around in vans handing out black Korn T-shirts and backwards baseball caps. Not to mention trips to Scores and cash for tips for all and sundry.

Add it up and the record company has spent about $4.4 million.

So their profit is $6.6 million; the band may as well be working at a 7-Eleven.

Of course, they had fun. Hearing yourself on the radio, selling records, getting new fans and being on TV is great, but now the band doesn't have enough money to pay the rent and nobody has any credit.

Worst of all, after all this, the band owns none of its work ... they can pay the mortgage forever but they'll never own the house. Like I said: Sharecropping.

Our media says, "Boo hoo, poor pop stars, they had a nice ride. Fuck them for speaking up"; but I say this dialogue is imperative. And cynical media people, who are more fascinated with celebrity than most celebrities, need to reacquaint themselves with their value systems.

When you look at the legal line on a CD, it says copyright 1976 Atlantic Records or copyright 1996 RCA Records. When you look at a book, though, it'll say something like copyright 1999 Susan Faludi, or David Foster Wallace. Authors own their books and license them to publishers. When the contract runs out, writers gets their books back. But record companies own our copyrights forever.

The system's set up so almost nobody gets paid.

* The RIAA *

Last November, a Congressional aide named Mitch Glazier, with the support of the RIAA, added a "technical amendment" to a bill that defined recorded music as "works for hire" under the 1978 Copyright Act.

He did this after all the hearings on the bill were over. By the time artists found out about the change, it was too late. The bill was on its way to the White House for the president's signature.

That subtle change in copyright law will add billions of dollars to record company bank accounts over the next few years -- billions of dollars that rightfully should have been paid to artists. A "work for hire" is now owned in perpetuity by the record company.

Under the 1978 Copyright Act, artists could reclaim the copyrights on their work after 35 years. If you wrote and recorded "Everybody Hurts," you at least got it back to as a family legacy after 35 years. But now, because of this corrupt little pisher, "Everybody Hurts" never gets returned to your family, and can now be sold to the highest bidder.

Over the years record companies have tried to put "work for hire" provisions in their contracts, and Mr. Glazier claims that the "work for hire" only "codified" a standard industry practice. But copyright laws didn't identify sound recordings as being eligible to be called "works for hire," so those contracts didn't mean anything. Until now.

Writing and recording "Hey Jude" is now the same thing as writing an English textbook, writing standardized tests, translating a novel from one language to another or making a map. These are the types of things addressed in the "work for hire" act. And writing a standardized test is a work for hire. Not making a record.

So an assistant substantially altered a major law when he only had the authority to make spelling corrections. That's not what I learned about how government works in my high school civics class.

Three months later, the RIAA hired Mr. Glazier to become its top lobbyist at a salary that was obviously much greater than the one he had as the spelling corrector guy.

The RIAA tries to argue that this change was necessary because of a provision in the bill that musicians supported. That provision prevents anyone from registering a famous person's name as a Web address without that person's permission. That's great. I own my name, and should be able to do what I want with my name.

But the bill also created an exception that allows a company to take a person's name for a Web address if they create a work for hire. Which means a record company would be allowed to own your Web site when you record your "work for hire" album. Like I said: Sharecropping.

Although I've never met any one at a record company who "believed in the Internet," they've all been trying to cover their asses by securing everyone's digital rights. Not that they know what to do with them. Go to a major label-owned band site. Give me a dollar for every time you see an annoying "under construction" sign. I used to pester Geffen (when it was a label) to do a better job. I was totally ignored for two years, until I got my band name back. The Goo Goo Dolls are struggling to gain control of their domain name from Warner Bros., who claim they own the name because they set up a shitty promotional Web site for the band.

Orrin Hatch, songwriter and Republican senator from Utah, seems to be the only person in Washington with a progressive view of copyright law. One lobbyist says that there's no one in the House with a similar view and that "this would have never happened if Sonny Bono was still alive."

By the way, which bill do you think the recording industry used for this amendment?

The Record Company Redefinition Act? No. The Music Copyright Act? No. The Work for Hire Authorship Act? No.

How about the Satellite Home Viewing Act of 1999?

Stealing our copyright reversions in the dead of night while no one was looking, and with no hearings held, is piracy.

It's piracy when the RIAA lobbies to change the bankruptcy law to make it more difficult for musicians to declare bankruptcy. Some musicians have declared bankruptcy to free themselves from truly evil contracts. TLC declared bankruptcy after they received less than 2 percent of the $175 million earned by their CD sales. That was about 40 times less than the profit that was divided among their management, production and record companies.

Toni Braxton also declared bankruptcy in 1998. She sold $188 million worth of CDs, but she was broke because of a terrible recording contract that paid her less than 35 cents per album. Bankruptcy can be an artist's only defense against a truly horrible deal and the RIAA wants to take it away.

Artists want to believe that we can make lots of money if we're successful. But there are hundreds of stories about artists in their 60s and 70s who are broke because they never made a dime from their hit records. And real success is still a long shot for a new artist today. Of the 32,000 new releases each year, only 250 sell more than 10,000 copies. And less than 30 go platinum.

The four major record corporations fund the RIAA. These companies are rich and obviously well-represented. Recording artists and musicians don't really have the money to compete. The 273,000 working musicians in America make about $30,000 a year. Only 15 percent of American Federation of Musicians members work steadily in music.

But the music industry is a $40 billion-a-year business. One-third of that revenue comes from the United States. The annual sales of cassettes, CDs and video are larger than the gross national product of 80 countries. Americans have more CD players, radios and VCRs than we have bathtubs.

Story after story gets told about artists -- some of them in their 60s and 70s, some of them authors of huge successful songs that we all enjoy, use and sing -- living in total poverty, never having been paid anything. Not even having access to a union or to basic health care. Artists who have generated billions of dollars for an industry die broke and un-cared for.

And they're not actors or participators. They're the rightful owners, originators and performers of original compositions.

This is piracy.

* Technology is not piracy *

This opinion is one I really haven't formed yet, so as I speak about Napster now, please understand that I'm not totally informed. I will be the first in line to file a class action suit to protect my copyrights if Napster or even the far more advanced Gnutella doesn't work with us to protect us. I'm on [Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich's side, in other words, and I feel really badly for him that he doesn't know how to condense his case down to a sound-bite that sounds more reasonable than the one I saw today.

I also think Metallica is being given too much grief. It's anti-artist, for one thing. An artist speaks up and the artist gets squashed: Sharecropping. Don't get above your station, kid. It's not piracy when kids swap music over the Internet using Napster or Gnutella or Freenet or iMesh or beaming their CDs into a My.MP3.com or MyPlay.com music locker. It's piracy when those guys that run those companies make side deals with the cartel lawyers and label heads so that they can be "the labels' friend," and not the artists'.

Recording artists have essentially been giving their music away for free under the old system, so new technology that exposes our music to a larger audience can only be a good thing. Why aren't these companies working with us to create some peace?

There were a billion music downloads last year, but music sales are up. Where's the evidence that downloads hurt business? Downloads are creating more demand.

Why aren't record companies embracing this great opportunity? Why aren't they trying to talk to the kids passing compilations around to learn what they like? Why is the RIAA suing the companies that are stimulating this new demand? What's the point of going after people swapping cruddy-sounding MP3s? Cash! Cash they have no intention of passing onto us, the writers of their profits.

At this point the "record collector" geniuses who use Napster don't have the coolest most arcane selection anyway, unless you're into techno. Hardly any pre-1982 REM fans, no '60s punk, even the Alan Parsons Project was underrepresented when I tried to find some Napster buddies. For the most part, it was college boy rawk without a lot of imagination. Maybe that's the demographic that cares -- and in that case, My Bloody Valentine and Bert Jansch aren't going to get screwed just yet. There's still time to negotiate.

* Destroying traditional access *

Somewhere along the way, record companies figured out that it's a lot more profitable to control the distribution system than it is to nurture artists. And since the companies didn't have any real competition, artists had no other place to go. Record companies controlled the promotion and marketing; only they had the ability to get lots of radio play, and get records into all the big chain store. That power put them above both the artists and the audience. They own the plantation.

Being the gatekeeper was the most profitable place to be, but now we're in a world half without gates. The Internet allows artists to communicate directly with their audiences; we don't have to depend solely on an inefficient system where the record company promotes our records to radio, press or retail and then sits back and hopes fans find out about our music.

Record companies don't understand the intimacy between artists and their fans. They put records on the radio and buy some advertising and hope for the best. Digital distribution gives everyone worldwide, instant access to music.

And filters are replacing gatekeepers. In a world where we can get anything we want, whenever we want it, how does a company create value? By filtering. In a world without friction, the only friction people value is editing. A filter is valuable when it understands the needs of both artists and the public. New companies should be conduits between musicians and their fans.

Right now the only way you can get music is by shelling out $17. In a world where music costs a nickel, an artist can "sell" 100 million copies instead of just a million.

The present system keeps artists from finding an audience because it has too many artificial scarcities: limited radio promotion, limited bin space in stores and a limited number of spots on the record company roster.

The digital world has no scarcities. There are countless ways to reach an audience. Radio is no longer the only place to hear a new song. And tiny mall record stores aren't the only place to buy a new CD.

* I'm leaving *

Now artists have options. We don't have to work with major labels anymore, because the digital economy is creating new ways to distribute and market music. And the free ones amongst us aren't going to. That means the slave class, which I represent, has to find ways to get out ofg enough to know that any alliance where I'm an owned service is going to be doomed.

When I agreed to allow a large cola company to promote a live show, I couldn't have been more miserable. They screwed up every single thing imaginable. The venue was empty but sold out. There were thousands of people outside who wanted to be there, trying to get tickets. And there were the empty seats the company had purchased for a lump sum and failed to market because they were clueless about music.

It was really dumb. You had to buy the cola. You had to dial a number. You had to press a bunch of buttons. You had to do all this crap that nobody wanted to do. Why not just bring a can to the door?

On top of all this, I felt embarrassed to be an advertising agent for a product that I'd never let my daughter use. Plus they were a condescending bunch of little guys. They treated me like I was an ungrateful little bitch who should be groveling for the experience to play for their damn soda.

I ended up playing without my shirt on and ordering a six-pack of the rival cola onstage. Also lots of unwholesome cursing and nudity occurred. This way I knew that no matter how tempting the cash was, they'd never do business with me again.

If you want some little obedient slave content provider, then fine. But I think most musicians don't want to be responsible for your clean-cut, wholesome, all-American, sugar corrosive cancer-causing, all white people, no women allowed sodapop images.

Nor, on the converse, do we want to be responsible for your vice-inducing, liver-rotting, child-labor-law-violating, all white people, no-women-allowed booze images.

So as a defiant moody artist worth my salt, I've got to think of something else. Tampax, maybe.

* Money *

As a user, I love Napster. It carries some risk. I hear idealistic business people talk about how people that are musicians would be musicians no matter what and that we're already doing it for free, so what about copyright?

Please. It's incredibly easy not to be a musician. It's always a struggle and a dangerous career choice. We are motivated by passion and by money.

That's not a dirty little secret. It's a fact. Take away the incentive for major or minor financial reward and you dilute the pool of musicians. I am not saying that only pure artists will survive. Like a few of the more utopian people who discuss this, I don't want just pure artists to survive.

Where would we all be without the trash? We need the trash to cover up our national depression. The utopians also say that because in their minds "pure" artists are all Ani DiFranco and don't demand a lot of money. Why are the utopians all entertainment lawyers and major label workers anyway? I demand a lot of money if I do a big huge worthwhile job and millions of people like it, don't kid yourself. In economic terms, you've got an industry that's loathsome and outmoded, but when it works it creates some incentive and some efficiency even though absolutely no one gets paid.

We suffer as a society and a culture when we don't pay the true value of goods and services delivered. We create a lack of production. Less good music is recorded if we remove the incentive to create it.

Music is intellectual property with full cash and opportunity costs required to create, polish and record a finished product. If I invest money and time into my business, I should be reasonably protected from the theft of my goods and services. When the judgment came against MP3.com, the RIAA sought damages of $150,000 for each major-label-"owned" musical track in MP3's database. Multiply by 80,000 CDs, and MP3.com could owe the gatekeepers $120 billion.

But what about the Plimsouls? Why can't MP3.com pay each artist a fixed amount based on the number of their downloads? Why on earth should MP3.com pay $120 billion to four distribution companies, who in most cases won't have to pay a nickel to the artists whose copyrights they've stolen through their system of organized theft?

It's a ridiculous judgment. I believe if evidence had been entered that ultimately it's just shuffling big cash around two or three corporations, I can only pray that the judge in the MP3.com case would have seen the RIAA's case for the joke that it was.

I'd rather work out a deal with MP3.com myself, and force them to be artist-friendly, instead of being laughed at and having my money hidden by a major label as they sell my records out the back door, behind everyone's back.

How dare they behave in such a horrified manner in regards to copyright law when their entire industry is based on piracy? When Mister Label Head Guy, whom my lawyer yelled at me not to name, got caught last year selling millions of "cleans" out the back door. "Cleans" being the records that aren't for marketing but are to be sold. Who the fuck is this guy? He wants to save a little cash so he fucks the artist and goes home? Do they fire him? Does Chuck Phillips of the LA Times say anything? No way! This guy's a source! He throws awesome dinner parties! Why fuck with the status quo? Let's pick on Lars Ulrich instead because he brought up an interesting point!

* Conclusion *

I'm looking for people to help connect me to more fans, because I believe fans will leave a tip based on the enjoyment and service I provide. I'm not scared of them getting a preview. It really is going to be a global village where a billion people have access to one artist and a billion people can leave a tip if they want to.

It's a radical democratization. Every artist has access to every fan and every fan has access to every artist, and the people who direct fans to those artists. People that give advice and technical value are the people we need. People crowding the distribution pipe and trying to ignore fans and artists have no value. This is a perfect system.

If you're going to start a company that deals with musicians, please do it because you like music. Offer some control and equity to the artists and try to give us some creative guidance. If music and art and passion are important to you, there are hundreds of artists who are ready to rewrite the rules.

In the last few years, business pulled our culture away from the idea that music is important and emotional and sacred. But new technology has brought a real opportunity for change; we can break down the old system and give musicians real freedom and choice.

A great writer named Neal Stephenson said that America does four things better than any other country in the world: rock music, movies, software and high-speed pizza delivery. All of these are sacred American art forms. Let's return to our purity and our idealism while we have this shot.

Warren Beatty once said: "The greatest gift God gives us is to enjoy the sound of our own voice. And the second greatest gift is to get somebody to listen to it."

And for that, I humbly thank you.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - Courtney Love

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