i have declared 2012 the year i treat myself nicely… as lumbia is curled up on my lap resting (after trying several times to climb on me as i was running errands) i’m thinking to myself, ‘this is the life’. if life were only that simple…
fortunately, for me; in many ways it IS that simple. despite, for all intents and purposes, being part of a population called the ‘working poor’ my heart is very rich. i mean, i am fortunate to have a beautiful cat resting on my lap, well-fed and hydrated; i live in a house with people whose company i enjoy; i have a place of employment, where i enjoy the people i work with…. i have no major attachments- i own nothing they ‘say’ you are supposed to own, for people in my age range: the credit cards, house, car… my living has pretty much always been simple, and i am appreciative of that. i am thankful everyday for being given the gift of life and breath on this earth, and the ability to do the work i do…
…especially in light of invasive policy being signed in this country. i want to speak about SOPA for a minute, michael. you know (or maybe you don’t)- the ‘stop online piracy act’, and the ‘protect IP act’ (PIPA). i know there was that one time you laughed at the word ‘pirates’ at a certain world music awards event, when the subject of music piracy was mentioned. perhaps you were thinking of the ‘pirates of the caribbean’? who knows.
i DO know there was a time you spoke out against such invasive policies.
“I am speechless about the idea of putting music fans in jail for downloading music. It is wrong to download but the answer cannot be jail; it is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish that would not be forgotten… Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws. We should look to new technologies, like Apple’s new Itunes Music Store, for solutions. This way, innovation continues to be the hallmark of America.”
this is what you said in response to the ‘authors, consumer and computer owners protection and security act of 2003’. well, you’d be happy to know that the RIAA (recording industry association of america), as well as the MPAA (motion picture association of america) are at it again, with this SOPA bill.
today, there is going to be a staged blackout from several sites (such as wikipedia and reddit, with some support of people dealing in sites like craigslist, even GOOGLE) which this bill claims to ‘protect from foreign pirates’. what does chris dodd, the head of the MPAA have to say about this?
“A so-called ‘blackout’ is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”
here is information about the bill:
need i repeat what you said? i think i will.
“it is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish that would not be forgotten…”
bills like this will clearly hinder any innovation prompted by fans or consumers, because its goal is monopolization by major corporations. as you mentioned back in 2002, major companies do not respect artists- they have to keep working in order to survive. and YES, i do wonder if, in the end, this was the case for you… if an artist does not have the leverage of the kind you had, they are going to sink. no artist in this day and age would be able to single-handedly purchase a publishing company. as you knew, they worked hard to take that from you.
and it’s already been said- isn’t what these major corporations doing piracy? they inflate prices of their products. it doesn’t match the value of the product they put out. it’s ALSO thievery when the materials released have no substance- downloading became more and more popular in a time when the public found the music being released was not worth paying the full price for. we’re now in a time where there are charts for numbers of RINGTONES sold. i mean, come ON.
and: in my research for the corporations/companies in support of this bill, guess what? SONY/ATV was one of them. i’ll wait for a response on that one, hee hee..
seriously though- i have no idea if branca, weitzman or mc clain (the people running the estate) had any say in this matter, so i reserve judgement on that. however, it is extremely clear that SONY CORPORATION’S music division (…) was a huge proponent of the bill being passed.
a lot of folks will defend sony in several ways, by saying you focused your vitriol on tommy mottola as opposed to the corporation as a whole; in 2002 though, you referred to mottola as being racist, but you referred to the music industry as a whole (SONY INCLUDED) as killing the spirit and creativity of art, and taking advantage of artists.
the ‘sony sucks’ movement was ultimately a fan-generated one, to bring attention to what they felt was SONY’s disregard of your talents, by not promoting the ‘invincible’ album. most of the fans did not even know what was going on behind the scenes at that time, as to why they decided to stop promoting the album. while i feel that ‘invincible’ is a great album (and actually one of my favourites of yours), the FULL story behind it all is one that will only be known between you and all involved. to me, the story of ‘invincible’ will always be a traditional marxist tale if you will (i’m not even a fan of traditional marxism, but hear me out here)- that the corporation will always see to it that the workers will never achieve power. the worker only holds a certain amount of value over a certain point in time, and can, and will, always be replaced when the corporation’s wishes/needs have been fulfilled.
i think you ended up realizing this WAAAAAAAAAY before you acknowledged it in 2002, but it may have been too late, due to contractual restrictions.
“the tradition of great performers… the story is usually the same… these guys work really hard at their craft; but the story ends the same. they usually are broken, torn and usually just sad… because the companies take advantage of them…. SONY– being the artist that i am, at SONY; i’ve generated several billion dollars at SONY…. we can’t let them get away with what they are trying to do…. i’m leaving them, and they’re very angry at me… i just did good business you know? so, the way they get revenge is to try and destroy my album!”
all of this was said before the infamous words, “tommy mottola is a devil.” it was as if you wanted to make a specific point of how companies hire certain individuals in order to keep institutions like racism alive. you are essentially speaking to the same issues as elders such as bo diddley and lavern baker have spoken to…
speaking of ms. baker, she actually DID petition congress to create a law which made it illegal for a song’s arrangement to be copied, note for note. this developed due to an arrangement of the song ‘tweedlee dee’ covered by (white) artist georgia gibbs, which charted higher than ms. baker’s version, perpetuating the tradition of companies’ giving more attention to white artists, whilst relegating black artists to ‘race’, ‘R&B’ or ‘soul’ music.
and as you also mentioned, there’s only so far they will let black artists go:
“i’m here to speak for ALL injustice… you gotta remember something. the minute i started breaking the all-time record in record sales; i broke elvis’ records, i broke beatles records… the minute it became the all-time, best selling album in history in the guinness book of world records, OVERNIGHT they called me a freak, they called me a homosexual; they called me a child molester… they said that i bleached my skin… they made everything to turn the public against me. this is all complete, complete conspiracy, you have to know that.”
the next person who speaks of ‘skin bleaching’ i shall point them to this photo… as far as i can see, this was an ‘unguarded moment’. due to whatever image you worked to uphold for yourself, i don’t think you’d go around shaking hands with random people, with a hand and wrist clearly missing pigment. unless… you forgot you were not wearing make-up, or a glove. your chest and neck areas also appear to be missing pigment in this photo as well. we spoke about that before. i just wanted to show another angle of the situation. i highly doubt someone as private as you would purposefully bleach skin, and make that open to the world in a manner such as the photo above. i’m just saying. and knowing people who have vitiligo, your hand certainly does not look like a case of bleaching.
i personally would not have minded one bit if you didn’t conceal the effects of vitiligo; but i grasp why you did.
(on another note, ms. baker did a version of the song ‘think twice’ with your man jackie wilson, that would put some of these cats today to shame, in terms of language… people talk about the ‘good ‘ol days’ of music, and how ‘clean’ it was- well, they haven’t heard folks like millie jackson, i guess… their rendition of ‘think twice’ is essentially equivalent to stuff they put out today- but a lot more clever. alls i gotta say is, don’t mess with la vern baker!!! but i digress…)
if you didn’t feel passionate about how a label like sony took advantage of artists, would you have willingly held a fan-made sign which read “SONY SUCKS”? i know you were kind to your fans; but really michael, if you were going to focus your anger on mottola, it would have stayed with mottola. you would NOT have spoken out in any way against the industry, or even the label in which you were indebted to, even after you left- we need to remember that they STILL held the masters to your music, and they most likely will until 2017, when that posthumous contract ends. if you wanna talk about the REAL pirates, we will.
and i’m not exactly the greatest conspiracy theorist; but you were talking about something people didn’t want to hear, be it in the industry or not. why would ‘michael jackson (TM)’ be exposing the music industry? when you tried to exert some power at a stage where they DECIDED you didn’t have any… well, we know what happened. you had a 2005 TRIAL in which (from my study of it) the testimonies and transcripts contradicted the charges; you had dealings with people who, according to you, stole your money and assets; and you had (again from my studies, as discussed previously) a ‘promissory note’ which was forged as a contract, in order to get you to do a series of shows which never ended up happening, due to your transition. i have NO qualms in saying there WAS some sort of a conspiracy that occurred.
this is nothing new, and it’s sad (though not surprising) that the situation continues to perpetuate itself in many forms.
if SOPA were to pass, will fans and consumers continue to financially support an industry which does not support them? will artists continue to entrap themselves in record deals which they essentially receive no rights or respect?
those who suport the bill claim that it’s addressing only ‘foreign sites’; however, many users of the internet outside of the states utilize u.s. based sites, and put their materials on these sites. ultimately, this would affect the u.s.-based sites, and under this bill, said sites could be shut down for hosting these ‘foreign pirates’. also, sites like youtube have people (who live in the states) uploading full films and albums. youtube, owned by google, is far from a ‘foreign site’. who are we kidding? youtube also has a system where they work to filter out copyrighted content not uploaded by the copyrighter. and even though youtube has developed this system where people pay for films (i suppose in competition with companies like netflix), people are still going to check to see if there’s free versions of the films or music on the site. there are also many people who already paid for and own copies of the music and films they listen to and watch on youtube. the many comments can attest. there are also comments stating that music was purchased after discovering an artist through mediums like youtube. there are also people like dexter wansel (who worked with you- or at least this person claims to be wansel) openly thanking people for keeping his works alive through mediums such as youtube. as many problems as the internet has, one of its benefits is intergenerationalism. if it were not for youtube, it’s most likely people born in the 1990s would not be aware of the music their favourite artists sample for instance; because their parents may have gotten rid of all of those records. people purchase music to support ARTISTS, not corporations. the corporations, knowing this; take advantage of that and inflate prices and don’t pay the artists in royalties fairly. the focus should be on ways to 100% financially support artists, bypassing the major corporations- because they are not beneficial to artists.
this bill is ultimately about the loss of revenue for these industries, and the desire to hold on to whatever little ‘influence’ they have (which is through lobbying); it’s about who holds the licensing to materials, and not even individual copyrights or publishing- which artists SHOULD hold the rights to, in an ideal situation. RIAA and the MPAA have tried this in past incarnations… and in 1984, the states were trying to deal with an onslaught of fake cabbage patch kid dolls from taiwan- and, you guessed it- ‘michael jackson (TM)’ shades!!!
here’s more information about actions taken to try to stop certain types of technological ‘progress’ from happening:
i will always respect you immensely for rightfully returning little richard’s publishing back to him (which was a part of ATV), free of strings. you also tried to return sylvester stewart’s (aka: sly stone’s) publishing back (after he sold it to you for JUST $1 MILLION), but for some reason, he refused. you stayed true to your word in respecting the elders you felt got no respect in the industry.
and as i write this, listening to who i consider your artistic father, STEVIE WONDER; all of this makes me wonder how artists such as he would be treated today, if they were new to the industry. he would NEVER be able to do the art he was able to do when he initially did it. he would never be able to present his vision, because it would be stifled by a bigger force than berry gordy, concerned with record sales and quarter reports. artists like you would never be able to develop and market any of your works in the way you did.
i am glad to have lived through a period (as brief as it was) where artists had freedom to create their visions on their terms, and art on its surface was not dictated by sales. artists like marvin gaye withheld their art until they got it produced in the way THEY wanted it. and you know what? people responded to this freedom by PURCHASING IT. how novel of an idea, eh?
if a SOPA were to exist in, say, 1937, YOU would, decades later be essentially banned from freely utilizing carl orff’s ‘oh fortuna’ from his ‘carmina burana’ piece in your concerts. or to be even MORE specific- MOST popular music would not even exist, because johann pachelbel would have the industry on lockdown- since so much of pop music is based on his ‘canon’ piece. and let’s see… bob fosse would have your performance of ‘billie jean’ banned, since it’s inspired by his performance in ‘the little prince’; and sammy davis jr. could sue bob fosse (and you) for ‘taking’ from him, etc., etc. you see how ridiculous this ‘copyright infringement/intellectual property’ issue can become, if done in the way it’s done by these legislators? to defend it, again, is to DEFEND CORPORATIONS, NOT ARTISTS.
art is about innovating and being inspired by what our elders have presented to this world. the corporations clearly don’t want to acknowledge that sound is ultimately comprised of a series of vibrations- vibrations which can be owned by no one on this earth. it’s like the medical industry trying to patent plants. yes, artists should indeed be respected and paid for their work in some way, but that’s not even the way it is working now. artists are owned by corporations, and if SOPA passes (in it’s current, obviously ‘confusing’ form), the ownership will continue.
“it is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish that would not be forgotten…”
it’s time for all of us to begin to treat ourselves with love and respect. let us break free from the bindings which entrap us, artistically, and otherwise. if you ‘own’ anything, know that in the end, when you leave this earth it will no longer ‘belong’ to you.
in combining the technology and the spirit, the elder horace silver has placed these words into our sphere some time ago:
the total computation that my computer makes
will incarnate my spirit in form desire takes.
when all desire ceases, computer’s work is done
i’ll come to know the spirit and freedom can be won.
the many imperfections of personality
are here in my computer within the depths of me
as i begin to profit from lessons life will teach,
my soul computes the progress my character has reached.
if i will start correcting my personality
my character will shape up to make a better me
with character perfected i have no further need
of using my computer the spirit will be freed.
(p.s. i just found out that the site i wrote this entry on is doing a ‘blackout/protest’ of SOPA as well… i can roll with that. i’m just saying.)