Friday, August 22, 2008

Welcome to the Center of the Universe

dudes, this is totally going to be my facebook/myspace page, and it's going to be awesome. LOLZ. I'm going to post all my videos and pics, and sometime I'll show you this thing I did with some loops. I played it for my friend, and she was all like OMG.

Sometimes I won't have anything to write about, because I've been spending most of my free time looking at myself on the internet. WTF, my Xbox is getting all dusty. LOL. But I'll answer all the friend requests, just give me a minute, because I'm totally trying to figure out how to get my videos up on youtube. LOLZ.

Sometimes I go out and hang with real people, but I get kind of bored, so I'll pull out my blackberry and check my friend requests. LOLZ.

K, peace out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Am I the only one that feels sorry for Jesse Jackson?

For two weeks in a row, everyone has had their panties in a bunch over things Rev. Jackson said when he didn't realize that his mic was live. Poor bastard. Imagine, Jesse Jackson is human. There was a time when the press understood this. They all knew that Jack Kennedy was fucking every skirt he could get his hands on, including Marilyn Monroe, and they kept quiet about it. That was his business. They took care to never photograph FDR in his wheelchair. Can you imagine any of this happening today?

Poor Jesse. When he thought no one was listening, he talked like a real person. Like a black person. Oh, the horror, the horror! Well, of course people are leaping on this as a great hypocracy, because the Reverend Jackson has been one of those that have campaigned against that particular word, creating something called "the N word." Fuck that. Fuck is the F word. Fuck that, too. Words are just fucking words, and trying to ban them just gives them more power.

It used to be an insult to call a gay person "queer." Then gays adopted the word themselves, and took all of the sting out of it, up to the point of having a TV show called "Queer eye for the straight guy." They should do the same with faggot, or fag.

Nigger, please.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Feeling Kind of Pavolvian

I always felt sorry for Pavlov's dog, but thanks to him (or them) we have the word Pavlovian. This, I have realized, is what is paralyzing my musical output now. It's a Pavlovian response.

It's true that I never set out to be rich or famous with my music, and I accomplished both of those goals, I am neither. I worked with a lot of famous people early in my career, and I saw how success was a double-edged sword, and I didn't covet it. Of all of the facets of my musical career, pianist, composer, song writer, my favorite was producing records. It was a perfect way to express myself without having to try to be a teen idol or even compromise myself.

So for years, I was quite content in my obscurity, and always felt lucky that I was able to earn a living doing it.

Something changed along the way. I got poisoned.

Although I worked in pop music, I never thought of money when I was creating, I was doing it because I love pop music. I had to fight to get paid sometimes. A lot of times. The music business is not for the weak of heart. Don King tried to promote concerts for awhile, I was part of them with the Jacksons tour in '81. He later said that he was going back to the boxing world, because the music biz was too tough for him. Imagine that! Think about that for a second. I still am amazed by that.

But I always carried on, because I loved it so much. But now, after all of this time, I am getting worn out. Lately, I have been struggling to get two companies with whom I have been doing business to pay me what is due. Just what they owe me. I've sent emails everyday, I get the runaround, and I'm running out of patience.

You see, I've been doing this for over 25 years. Just trying to get paid. The music I've made in this time has made millions of dollars, but I assure you that I am no millionaire. Just the music I've made with Mamborama has made over a million dollars at least, and I haven't seen but maybe ten percent of that in eight years. And I OWN the recordings! You just can't win in this business.

Insult to injury, people no longer feel the need to buy recordings, as they are easily available to download, so now the public takes my music without compensation as well. It used to be that just the business cheated me.

Maybe now you can understand why at this moment, I have NO desire to create music. None whatsoever. It's a Pavlovian response, I've been abused, and I don't want to go there anymore. It's a shame. I'm no genius, but there have been a lot of people over the years that enjoyed my music and encouraged me.

Am I whining again? I don't know. I think I've just been fucked with too much. Do you like to work for free? If so, come on over and clean my kitchen, it's a mess.

Friday, January 4, 2008

So Much For "Supporting The Artist"

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails posted some extremely disappointing results of his experiment giving away the album he produced for spoken word artist Saul Williams.

In case you're not aware, he made the album available for free at a low (not bad: 160) mp3 rate, and asked a measly five bucks for higher quality digital tracks. I myself decided the support the idea, and coughed up five bucks without even listening to it first. It wasn't my cup of tea at all, but I certainly didn't feel ripped off; it was my choice, and I was intrigued by the idea. What's completely sad and depressing, is that hard core NIN fans made up the bulk of people downloading the thing, and only about 18% paid for it. Come on, people! Five bucks! This is utterly disgusting.

To me, it just proves what I have long suspected: despite all of the rationalizations, people just want something for nothing. If they could download concert tickets for free, or a happy meal from McDonald's, they'd rationalize that as well. I just wish they would be more honest about it, and quit trying to justify it.

At this moment, I have no desire to make music anymore for these parasites. Fuck 'em, let them make mashups and push around loops in Garageband. It's a shame.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

By the way...

I don't want to give the impression that I wholeheartedly support the music industry just because I don't like the idea that recorded music should be free. Having worked in the industry I can appreciate what they do, but I also see just how badly they have fucked this whole thing up. They share a lot of blame for creating the current fiasco.

1. Prices got out of hand. I remember when CDs first came out, and the industry blamed the high price on lack of manufacturing facilities and high reject rates. This would cease to be a problem in a few years, and then we could expect CDs to gain a price parity with LPs and cassettes. It never happened. They phased out the LP, and jacked up the price of cassettes, and the CD never came down, it just went up.

2. They changed the way they had been doing business. In the glory days, artists were signed thinking long term for a long career. They were nurtured along even if their first few albums didn't sell as hoped. Eventually, this shifted to a "gimme a hit now" mentality, and hits were more important than developing an artist's career. I imagine they made more money this way, but what happened is that marketing became more important than the music, and artists became disposable. The quality of pop music started going downhill.

3. They got too big. When giant corporations bought up the record companies, everything changed. Gone were the days when one person with ears could commit hundreds of thousands of dollars to take a chance on an artist. People who had no experience with records were in charge, and calling the shots. What did Sony know about making music when they bought Columbia Records? Universal made movies and TV, OK, at least that's entertainment, but Motown sure ain't what it used to be.

4. They seriously failed at the internet. If they were going to resort to suing individual downloaders, they should have done it sooner, and made it an all out war. It was too little, and too late, and now everyone refers to it as "suing their own customers." That's absurd in itself, someone caught stealing a physical object in a store is not a customer, he is a thief. They took down napster, but didn't come up with an option for consumers to easily and legally buy music online. It took Apple to come up with that with iTunes, and now the labels are bitching that they don't get to set their own prices anymore. Still, here we are in late 2007, and the majors have come up with bupkis to compete, and it's too late anyway, because no one even wants to pay .99 for a tune anymore when it can be had easily for free.

5. DRM is and was a total failure, a waste of everyone's time, and garnered even more resentment towards the labels. I don't believe in crippling the product, and I don't want some DRM scheme to keep me from moving legitimately bought music from one device to another. Dumb.

OK, they fucked up. Does that still mean that no one should have to pay for music? I've read a million posts where people say they will never buy another thing from the RIAA, but indie labels are getting screwed too. And the artists. Over half of the people who downloaded Radiohead's album didn't pay shit.

So, even though the record industry helped create this situation, downloaders use their "outrage" as a weak justification to continue to help themselves to someone else's hard work without paying a dime for it.

We have met the enemy, and he is us

The first time I remember hearing about the concept of "intellectual property" was in the early eighties. The Chinese, rushing towards capitalism, were cranking out bogus pirated knockoffs of everything from Gucci bags, to Ray-Bans, to fake Rolex watches, etc. Intellectual property and copyright don't seem to be a part of the Asian culture, and I often thought that it would be next to impossible to get them to realize that they were stealing by reproducing goods and software without licenses.

But now, the very concept of intellectual property and copyright are under assault here in the first world by the free culture and copyleft movement. And we are all going to lose, because if they win, there are not going to be any motives to create something worthwhile, other than the kicks of putting your home video on youtube, and being a star for fifteen seconds.

People are lobbying to change copyright laws. Some say that one year is long enough for a copyright. Some advocate that a copyright should expire when the author dies. This is absurd. My daughter will inherit whatever royalty money I have in the bank when I die, but why shouldn't she be entitled to future income?. If I had created a successful factory, for example, wouldn't she be entitled to enjoy the profits from that after I'm gone? If copyrights expire when a person dies, then why should anyone ever inherit anything? You could make the same lame argument: the inheritors did nothing to create the income, therefore it should be made public. It's bad craziness.

And it's all a rationalization to get things for free. I like free stuff too, but I don't live in a utopia. I don't get free gas, and the groceries aren't free. I've never gotten a free lunch in a Chinese restaurant. I don't expect to.

But getting back to my point in this post, I find it ironic that the problem of getting people to understand the concept of intellectual property has shifted back to the part of the world that invented it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Take Me To The Bridge

We've lost a lot of the art and craft of the pop song these days. Listening to some old shit tonight, I have been thinking about the form of the song, and what we don't often hear now.

A typical tin pan alley song can usually be analyzed as AABA, where A is the verse, and B is the bridge. More current pop songs have a verse and a chorus that repeat, and occasionally, if the songwriter is a little ambitious, he/she might throw in an extra part, let's call it an interlude, to break up the monotomy. Stevie Wonder is a genius at this, and he was always my inspiration to go the extra mile and write one little extra eight bar part that only happens once in the song. Lennon and McCartney were using this too. It has nothing to do with the AABA form. It comes in after the verse and chorus/hook have been stated at least twice. But it's so effective! Because usually, this interlude comes out of the blue, and is a complete harmonic change from the rest of the song. Then you go back straight to the hook, the chorus, and after this interlude, the hook is strengthened further from having this brief respite from the form you have previously already repeated twice. But I don't hear this much anymore. Granted, I don't hear many tunes these days where the harmony in the chorus is different from the verse, but the interlude is long gone.

And in a more basic sense, think about one of James Brown's tunes, where he hollers to the band to take him to the bridge. Almost always, they just go up a fourth to the sub-dominant, and play a variation of the basic groove of the tune, maybe with a different horn line. And it always adds excitement to the tune, not only for the change, but when they return to the basic grove of the song, it's that much fresher for having gone somewhere else for a bit.

It's a great way to beef up a song, try it.