Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wounded Knee: A Line in the Sand

"Who controls the past controls the future;
who controls the future controls the present" - George Orwell

Wounded Knee, a Line in the Sand a new movie by Kevin McKiernan comes in the midst of a firestorm of controversy generated by American Indian Mafia, a new book written by the FBI Special Agent-in-Charge of the Wounded Knee siege.

In 1973  Kevin McKiernan,  a young NPR reporter who didn't think the media should be embedded on one side, penetrated the cordon of agents and soldiers around Wounded Knee and made his way into the village. He stayed until the end, smuggling out reports and film.   While other reporters were reporting the official story, Kevin witnessed and filmed the siege from the inside.   This was a turning point in modern Indian history and is considered the longest public disorder in US history not counting the Civil War.  
The dramatic standoff caught the attention of the world. By the time it was over, two Indians were dead, two federal agents and 18 Indians were wounded, and more than 500 arrests had been made.

Why would Kevin McKiernan revisit this 40 years later?   Is it because the truth in media is essential to a free society?   He opens the trailer to the movie with the above quote from George Orwell.   When we  look at how a controlled media can change the story, change history, the politics, and the power structure, finding out what really happened at Pine Ridge, could have an impact our future. Every time another lie is written as history, there's another nail in the coffin of a freedom
Many worthy films do not get the support from big funders these days.  Kevin is using crowd funding to get completion funds.  The movie is in post - production.  For more information and to support this documentary check out the Kickstarter campaign here:
Kevin McKiernan is a veteran foreign correspondent, photographer and filmmaker. McKiernan's photography, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, has taken him to some of the world's most troubled regions, from El Salvador to Iraq, from West Africa to Afghanistan and Syria. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Don't Trickle on Me

There are problems with trickle down economics for musicians in the digital age “If we can’t make enough from digital media to pay for the record that we’ve just made,” Mr. Ribot said, “then we can’t make another one.” Marc Ribot, It seems it's still about the Big Three.   Read all about it here

The trickle down economy theory has been refuted even by our current Pope Francis:

" . . some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and na├»ve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.  . . . "

But what does this have to do with music?  Nothing really.  But it has everything to do with the music industry, making a living, and what's happening in the economic landscape.   The rich get richer, the one percent, that is, .01%, and the 99.99 percent are left to be pissed on and used.

Even some of the one per-centers get this.  Like Nick Hanauer who published a Memo to his Fellow Zillionaires - "The Pitchforks are Coming"   He sees the writing on the wall.  To quote Nik Green:  "When you tilt the playing field too far, everybody falls off…"

So, we have the BIG THREE in the music industry who still seem to own the playing field, and  the gap between the haves and have nots is expanding exponentially.  There are few stars at the top, the Miley Cyruses and Justin Biebers, and there is very little middle ground - i.e., middle division or middle class.  Even though the promise of the Internet was to level the playing field, who out there is making a living at music?  

 "They" - the marketers - tell independent artists that you have to do other things like sell t-shirts, merchandise and engage your fans.  Sounds great. I always wanted to sell t-shirts.  Do they really mean it when they say that you  glean one fan at a time? Let's see how long will it take to get 10,000, and out of 10,000 maybe one will buy your CD?   Or, there's the idea of 100 core fans who will spread it out to the masses.   On the Internet, there are flukes and it seems those who are interactive with their audience can have some degree of success.  Look at Amanda Palmer.  She's workin' it.

But hey, most people these days think music on the Internet is free . . . . isn't it?   Or, the paid services might give you $4.43 for those 10,000 streams, one fan at a time.   Musicians don't have to eat, we don't have to pay rent, there are no travel expenses, we don't have to buy expensive equipment . . .   Yet if you want to make money at it, you have to be good, right?  And that means you must spend most of your time doing it.  How does that happen with a full time job?  Or three part time jobs?   Well, I have a time machine and I slip into it every night and write songs, woodshed, and get my beauty sleep.  I come back after my journey into the future or past completely refreshed having lived another 24 hours as a practicing musician in another time dimension.  Oh, that was a dream.   

With every other band begging on Indiegogo or Kickstarter to get their albums made, doesn't it feel like we're all street musicians with our begging bowl out, defending our turf in the subway or on our virtual "block" waiting for some of that change to trickle down? 

The royalty are the BIG THREE and those who are anointed get to play in their court, and millions are lined up in the cue to be their servants.  The Independents are vying for their positions in the hierarchy.  What's that trickling sound?   Drip drip drip . . .

My question, if being a solitary musician or band with a pitchfork doesn't work, what if we get together and light some torches to create a new type of union, a new type of network, where there is the potential for a more level playing field, potential for those with talent and persistence to succeed at finding an audience together?     I don't know what it is or what it will look like, but am open to suggestions.   A gigging network?  A distribution network with some built in tools for PR?  Does it already exist? I know there are sites out there for independent musicians, and some are these are great; musicians have more online tools at our disposal than ever before. 
But ultimately, it's usually gigging and being in front of an audience that brings rewards.  If you're an acoustic singer-songwriter, it's easy to pick up and travel to gig in - or even beyond - your home town.  If you're a band or have to rent a truck to leave home, need a roadie and a driver, the threshold to gigging success is a lot bigger, often with smaller rewards.  With musicians competing for smaller and smaller openings, it makes sense to try a different model: collaboration.  It's what cells do in a body to keep it alive. 

Ideas anyone?  I've got a quite a few, but . . .   ideas are cheap.  In the next chapter, I'll elaborate more.    I've got my torch and some time on my hands.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Website Overhaul for the Away Team

It began with moving some furniture around, and pretty soon we were taking down the walls.   If you move one thing, something else has to move.  That's a bit like editing.  You have a chunk here and you want to fit it there.  Now the chunk that was there needs to go somewhere. . . . one thing leads to another.

What if it's just a bunch of blocks and you move the blocks around?   This is a bit like preschool.  But what goes in each block?  What do we want people to see when they arrive at The Home of the Away Team?   Or, maybe we should ask, what do YOU want to see?  Maybe not.  If every decision became a collective one here we would all be stuck now wouldn't we?

Which leads to the ultimate question:  How democratic can this really be?   Does there need to be a Dictator, something like the Conductor who keeps it all together?  Who is the voice of the band?  Is it simply a Do-ocracy.  Whomever does it . . gets the word in edgewise, the first word, the last word. Add Twitter and FaceBook so we can communicate and have a dialogue.... Amend and edit later . . Ok. .  

Distilled the blocks became:  Music, About, Tour,  Videos, Blog and Contact.

Check it out: The Away Team's Amazing New, but Somewhat the Same New and Hopefully Improved WEBSITE

We're missing the "Press" button.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Life Changes

Trying out the ReverbNation Free Player seems to work ok.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pay to Play

Musicians complain about "pay to play", and well they should.  Many music sites like Reverb Nation catering to the independent musician have become pay to play -- if you want to be seen and heard, it seems you have to pay.  FaceBook has algorithms that allow only a small percentage of your posts to have any reach unless you use their boost your post mechanism which is pay to play.   All the channels on television which were supposed to be publicly owned were snapped up by large media corporations.  Paid Advertising  is expensive pay to play through their channels.  Getting on the political playing field has always been largely pay to play -- those with the most, get selected.  Soldiers with promises of signing bonuses and patriotic intent sign up to protect our liberties and our Constitution, unwittingly are paying to play - sometimes with their lives --on the military playing field. 

And now that Internet neutrality is being challenged by big corporations who want to own the playing field, it may come to pass that only those with the bucks will get seen and heard.   

Pay to play has become a norm on nearly every playing field.  It's not new, but . . . 

"When the playing field becomes too tilted, everybody falls off." (Nik Green). When people train for a skill, they may be intern for awhile but don't expect to be interns for the rest of their lives.  It's beginning to look like we're in  living in a huge "internment" camp.   Matrix anyone?

There is nothing wrong with "paying dues", working hard, giving one's all, giving it for passion, even spending money to make money, but when the system becomes rigged and the uber wealthy are allowed to treat workers as an underclass and don't pay a living wage, I have a problem.  Seth Godin gives an example of cheerleaders who suffer low pay, abuse, just to be seen or heard.  Pay to play.  At ever strata of our society, people are taking advantage and sometimes abusing other's talents, time, work and passion in the name of the bottom line or the "team".  Add to that the rising cost of living while wages stagnate, debt enslaves most ordinary folks ,and opportunity must become self made.

So many workers today, in whatever field, owe their "soul to the company store."  In order to change this system, we must be aware of what it is, and why it needs changing.  But will awareness or higher consciousness save us?  We're at the precipice of a new feudal age or a bright new planet wide evolution.   What path do we choose?

For action on net neutrality go to:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Update for Jami

Yay, I saw Jami again on the street. and she's doing much better.   She's in the video "Hey There Sugar Pie" and I was getting really worried about her since I hadn't seen her in months.  She still hasn't seen the video, but she's really happy to know she's in it.