Music Piracy – An Artist’s Opinion

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I woke up this morning and checked my email as I usually do, and read my “Digital Music News”, which is similar to an online newspaper that runs articles about current music happenings for digital musicians. One of today’s articles was about music piracy and the difficulty in removing your music from these sites. Below the article was a very long thread of comments from all possible points of view.
Here is my opinion.
Music piracy is stealing. And it does hurt the musician. Over the past decade, we have gradually shifted from physical distribution to digital distribution with the advancement of mp3 players, specifically the advancements of Apple and it’s “iProducts”. Digital distribution now accounts for more than 52% of the music industry in the US. But there was a time during the shift when people had difficulty placing “value” on a digital product, with tangible products being of more value. This is what led people to believe that they aren’t really “stealing”, because a file can be duplicated an infinite number of times and not “cost” the musician anything. But it does cost us.

I spoke with a fan in early October, just before my first album, “Red” was released. He had told me that he was listening to my song on his iPod every day and loved it! While I was flattered that my song was this fan’s current favorite, I was also perplexed…”How did you get an mp3 of Red?”  He told me that he was able to steal the audio content from my upload on YouTube. Wonderful. Not. When the album released, this fan didn’t come back to purchase it through the 20+ different digital distribution companies that carry it, because he already had what he wanted.

Being able to download or steal practically any song you want without paying is lowering the perceived value of music. Sure, I want to share my music with people – – it’s why I have this site, and why I keep performing. But making music is expensive. I’m not saying that the rest of the world is responsible for financing my purchases of music gear, but professional recording and distribution costs quite a lot of money. And why would anyone pay to download one of MY tracks when they can get famous artists’ like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and BabyFace tracks for free?

Just because you aren’t stealing a physical product, it’s still stealing. I know that during the “shift” from physical to digital goods, it may have taken some time for some us to understand the value of something that we can’t hold and touch. This inability to assign value made it morally “ok” to steal for some.  But now that technology has evolved and people are paying for apps, data services and other digital product with a clear understanding that we are paying for the time that was spent into creating that product, our moral compass should tell us that stealing these things just isn’t right.

Worst of all, the companies that banded to allow music “sharing” have caused the consumer to put a value of $0 on my product. Not a good thing.

Categories: Music Blogs

What am I “About”

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2014-03-16 April 1 2015 002

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my path and direction in life. I feel that I’m at a crossroad in life and perhaps have been dawdling in the intersection waving at passerby and trying to ignore the fact that I must make choices about which path(s) to take. Music has, and always will be, my passion. From the moment I wake until I go to sleep at night, my thoughts are on sound, songs, music and how to share and consume that art form. But success in the music business isn’t the same as any other field. It’s not the same as getting a job and working your way up in the company. It isn’t even about selling a product, since the consumer can get music for free on the internet. The very internet that makes it possible to share your music and get your songs into the hands of fans has also enabled the fans to just take the music that you paid countless dollars and hours to record, leaving you with a balance of $0. There aren’t many businesses that can be so fruitless for so much hard work. And yet, songwriting and music will always call to me.

But there is more to life than music, even for me.

I want to make all things beautiful. I am constantly wanting to decorate and adorn my living space with beauty. I love bel canto (literally “beautiful singing”), bright, beautiful colors, metallic French Rococo styled details, and beautiful clothing. Beautiful birds, beautiful photographs, beautiful music and beautiful hearts.  I like to be surrounded in beauty, whether in nature or hand-crafted.

I’m intensely passionate about the fair treatment and well being of animals. I eat primarily vegetarian and believe we should strive to live harmoniously in peaceful cohabitation with the animals of this earth.

I love good food. On a beautiful plate. I have a deep appreciation for natural foods as well as food that has been prepared by someone for me to eat. Preparing a meal for another to eat is somehow sacred and holds more meaning now that I have served my husband 10 years of meals. Food is life-sustaining, and can be beautiful as well.

I’m a mother first, and a musician second. I know some musicians nowadays like to have children and maintain the same public image of openly promiscuous music and dress, but I’m not one of those people. The music I’ve written before and after I had my daughter is different. I have changed. Many times I have had to put my music career on the “back burner” while being a mother. And that’s ok.

I repaint and re-body Barbie dolls. In an effort to let my daughter play with the iconic doll, I have tried to create diversity within her “population” of plastic people. I’ve curled the hair of straight-haired ethnic dolls, and repainted Asian dolls to look more authentically Asian. I’ve found a few larger-sized celebrity dolls, rebodied some Barbie heads onto action figure bodies and repainted Barbie and Ken dolls to look older. I try to use her enjoyment for playing with the dolls to teach her lessons about culture, language social skills, and the acceptance of all different kinds of people.

I am interested in studying other cultures, languages and trying to learn as much as I can about the lives of people from all over the world. There are good and bad things about every culture of people, just as there are good and bad in our own culture. I want to be able to pass on knowledge to Zoey and to understand my husband better, who didn’t grow up in America. I’ve made friends with people from China, Taiwan, India, Iran, Mexico, Brazil and Korea, and these people have taught me so much. The world is such a big place, and I still know so little about its people.

I believe in a more simple life. I often find myself looking at off-the-grid living and wonder if I could ever do that. My fear is setting myself up to be off the grid and then the government powers creating a law that forces me to still pay taxes anyway. I am against our consumerist society, living as slaves to the government as they relieve us of billions of tax dollars so that they can build bombs. I’m trying to raise a healthy little girl and you are using our money to build a bomb? I am generally distrusting of the government, but feel powerless to change it.

Every summer I grow a garden in our yard. I freeze tomatoes and try very hard to gather and save as much produce as possible from our own plot. I don’t know if it saves any money, but I like the idea of being at least a little self-sufficient.

I want to see changes in education. I want to be the best teacher I can, and I try really hard to find new ways of reaching students’ minds. My experiences with students have taught me how to be a better teacher, but mostly how to be a better mother. Finding alternative methods of instilling knowledge is my goal.

At West Chester University I was classically trained in voice, which means I studied Opera and Art Songs. I didn’t love opera before college, but I have a deep appreciation for its complexity and beauty now.

I draw art sketches, and paint in multiple mediums (acrylic, oil, pastels, watercolor) when I have time. It’s a rare treat when I have spare moments to sit down and draw something. I’m often found doodling on napkins and the backs of drink coasters. I usually draw elaborate designs full of detail. My plans for this summer are to create some colorful rock mosaics along a pathway, and possibly paint our concrete sidewalk with a special design. So many projects! So little time! I am happiest when I am creating.

I love children’s books written by Jan Brett. When I was a little girl, I had only one book by her, “The Valentine’s Bears”. It was one of her simpler books, but I loved the way the bears were illustrated. I occasionally find one of her books at the thrift store where I shop, and have acquired a few from the mother’s consignment sales in the area. We now have quite a collection. I read them to my daughter. She loves them as well, but I think that perhaps I love them even more. I would love to write and illustrate few children’s books about ethnicity, culture, animals, society or family norms. Cute stories are very nice, but I’m more interested in a meaningful story that teaches a lesson applicable to our modern world.

I have a deep appreciation and love for Folkmanis puppets. I think I may even be a crazy person when it comes to this. When my sister was visiting we went up to New Hope, PA and found a store for animal lovers in Peddler’s Village. In the corner they had a wall of very high-quality animal puppets. They had the most amazing textiles and materials with very expressive eyes, and I couldn’t choose just one to purchase. I had a very difficult time deciding between about 4 different puppets, which were ALL my “favorite”. I ended up buying a Zebra, then coming back to get the dolphin too. On eBay, I found several second-hand ones that were reasonably priced that I couldn’t pass up. Then I ran into a fat white hen puppet at a used toy store. I once almost paid $60 for a large discontinued beautiful white Unicorn Folkmanis puppet with synthetic hair that I found on eBay, but my husband reminded me that puppets are not a necessity and I let it go. (Though I often think about that unicorn puppet, which further proves my passage into insane obsession with puppets.)  My favorite right now is our hedgehog puppet, because he looks like the character “Hedgie” from some of Jan Brett’s storybooks. We use our puppets with certain books, but I would love to find a way to use them more with small children.

So many things to do and places to go and people to meet. Tomorrow is always a new day.

Overflowing with Spam!

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I had a widget that would filter out “spam comments”, but it seems that the spammers found a hack around it, so I need to search for a better one. My email account has 1,066 emails in it today that are exclusively from “WordPress” spam! So if you left a comment on one of my pages or posts and it hasn’t yet been approved, it’s because I have to sort through 1,066 comments to grab the 20 or so legit ones. I also MAY have accidentally deleted a few comments when I first started sorting, because I was impatient and deleted whole pages of spam comments… oops, sorry.

I’m still tempted to just delete them….

…..

………hmm…..

Categories: Music Blogs

Free Download of Cover song “Body and Soul” for One Take Wednesday

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Here’s the new song for Wednesday. I had an awesome time going out for dinner and a drink with my friend Jenna, so technically I didn’t record this until after midnight, so maybe it’s Thursday. But I go by the weird rule that if it’s before bed then it’s still not “tomorrow” yet. For example, if I were texting a friend tonight about something we were doing in the morning (like after the sun rises, not now) then I would still say “tomorrow”. I wouldn’t ever say “Hey, where are we meeting later TODAY?”  nope. It’s strange. ….So this still counts as my recording for One-Take-Wednesday.

Something hilarious and adorable happened while we were at the diner tonight. We were talking about music, because Jenna is also a singer/songwriter/guitarist/bellydancer and I mentioned that I’m doing this “One Take Wednesday” thing. She asked what I was going to record and I told her “I was thinking Body and Soul”. Then, she sings “doot doot doo…” (to the tune of HEART and SOUL) For those that don’t know, it’s the tune that everyone plays on piano…even people that don’t know any other songs. I nearly died laughing. It was hilarious and endearing. I told her it was BODY and Soul instead of Heart and Soul and we both had a good chuckle. Musicians jokes are so intellectually superior to other jokes. ;) Kinda.

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And you can listen without downloading here:

Body And Soul – Cover by Sara Tiemogo

Categories: Music Blogs