[Editor Charlie sez: After this post started to take off on Huffington Post, Blake Morgan was told that HuffPo was killing the link on a flimsy excuse. The Trichordist has reposted the piece along with correspondence from the HuffPo editor.]
I love streaming.
I love making playlists, I love being able to download streamed music so I can listen when I’m offline, and I love being able to bring that music with me. In short, I think it’s a great distribution method.
What I don’t love is how little musicians get paid for all that streaming. It’s not fair––not even close. What’s more, middle-class music makers are the ones who are hit hardest, whose businesses are threatened, and whose families are put at risk. So how can I be against the way streaming companies treat musicians but not be against streaming itself?
The same way I’m against the electric chair, but not against electricity.
“Spotify says they can’t turn a profit because they have to pay artists too much. But the owner of Spotify is worth $310 million,” says singer-songwriter with a derisive laugh.
“I mean, let’s be honest,” says Morgan, who performs at The Lost Church on Saturday night. “If musicians know how to do anything, its how to count!”
Since 2013, when his heated e-mail exchange with Pandora CEO Tim Westergrin over performers’ royalties was shared in the Huffington Postand went viral (huff.to/2kRzXto), Morgan has become at least as well known for his activism on behalf of other musicians as for his own recorded music.
But Morgan’s subsequent founding of the #IRespectMusic campaign, public speaking at music industry events, and extensive lobbying of congress in support of the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act” and “Songwriters Equity Act” are natural outgrowths of a personal ethos that’s been integral to Morgan’s career since early on.
[Editor Charlie sez: Karoline Kramer-Gould is the bravest person we know. Karoline was the long time Music Director of Cleveland’s tastemaker college AAA station WJCU who spoke out about her views on the issue and the tactics of the all-powerful National Association of Broadcasters in the NAB’s opposition to paying artist royalties for the sound recordings they built their business on. Karoline became a vocal advocate for the bi-partisan Fair Play Fair Pay Act and to date is the only person who actually put their job on the line for artists which is what can happen when you speak truth to power.
Karoline left WJCU shortly after speaking out, and was invited to meet with many Members of Congress about the bi-partisan Fair Play Fair Pay act in support of artist pay for radio play. She now reflects on her experience in a blog post we reproduce with Karoline’s permission from her blog at karolinekramer.com. And don’t forget to sign the petition at IRespectMusic.org!]
1. a dramatic change in the paradigm of a scientific community, or a change from one scientific paradigm to another.
A friend who works as a radio promoter called me last week to catch up. During the conversation, he asked me if I’m still looking for work in radio. I told him I didn’t think so. He was sad and tried to encourage me to continue to look for work in that field. He said he misses me. That a lot of promoters miss me. That I have so much to offer to radio.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation.
Two weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to create and program a new Internet radio station. I declined. There was one simple reason. I don’t want to work in radio again.
I miss discovering and sharing new music. I miss the weekly chats with label folks and indie promoters. I miss artist interviews and concerts.
I love the time I spent in radio. I learned a lot. I made wonderful lifelong friends.
I used to think I couldn’t really be happy if I wasn’t working in radio. Now I know that I can finally be happy because I’m NOT working in radio any longer.
Most folks who work in radio have always worked in radio, starting in college. I didn’t start working there until I was in my 30s. I was a business professional in love with IT.
When I first started in radio, I was amazed at a lot of things that seemed normal there – things that would never fly in any other field. Behaviors, ideas, hierarchies. Outdated methodology for charts and advertising. I thought that radio people lived in a bubble. I still do. I loved the bubble. But now that I’m no longer there I can look at it and once again see how out of touch the industry is.
When the letter supporting #FairPlayFairPay and subsequent Huffington Post article came out in October, 2015, it struck a chord with the general public and musicians all over the world. I received hundreds of tweets and messages of support and encouragement. That overwhelming support was balanced by the near silence from the radio industry.
I left the radio station I was working with and began applying for jobs in the radio field. I didn’t receive rejection letters, just silence. At first I thought I was overthinking it – that there was something else going on, it wasn’t the letter and article. I wasn’t that important. But the longer I’ve been confronted with that silence, the more it confirmed my fears that I closed the door on that career path by speaking out.
When that realization hit, I was angry. Strike that. I was livid. I was furious that those who worked for larger stations in bigger markets didn’t say anything or acknowledge what I did. Their silence, to me, spoke volumes about their being complicit in the attempt to deny artists their basic rights – to be paid fairly for their work.
I cursed those taste-maker programmers I knew. They had an opportunity to join me. To raise their voices and add to the strength of the musicians. What kept them silent? Fear of upsetting the status quo? Or was it the biggest trap of all – safety? Perhaps they are safe and comfortable where they are and can’t fathom losing it?
I don’t know the answer. I only know that their silence speaks volumes to me. The people who claim to love music and artists, yet continue to work in a field that denies artists fair compensation, are showing us whose side they are on: their own.
On. Their. Own.
I will never join them in that complicit silence again.
Insightful podcast from Frazer Rice with Blake Morgan on his uplifting business philosophy behind ECR Music Group, his perspectives as an artist and songwriter and the #iresepectmusic movement!
It was a genuine pleasure to speak with Blake Morgan about the state of the music industry . . . we spoke for an hour and could have kept going for much longer!
Native New Yorker Blake Morgan is a recording artist, record producer, and the founder and owner of ECR Music Group, a global music company which operates under an elemental principle unprecedented in the music world: all of its artists and labels own one-hundred percent of their master recordings.
On the heels of his sold-out eight-month run at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, Blake Morgan now embarks on his first large-scale West Coast solo tour of the United States. The New York Times calls Morgan “Disarmingly unselfconscious,” while Billboard Magazine writes, “Blake Morgan has a voice that was made to be heard on the radio…inspired songwriting and passionate performances.” The Washington Post adds, “He’s got killer pop-rock instincts, something that leaps out at you…a natural when it comes to fashioning sharp melodies and catchy choruses.” Blake Morgan’s 2016 West Coast Tour will run from August 22nd until September 3rd, with Morgan performing ten concerts in nine cities. Morgan returns to Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3 on September 14th, for Season Two of his ongoing artist-in-residence concert series in New York City.