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Jazz Legend Billy Harper joined MFM's Board!!!

“Musicians – we have to stop being so proud of being “very independent” and realize that: We are not alone. We are connected as in group of jazz musicians or, just group of musicians.
Like it or not …… it has been the “negative stigma” placed on us as a “group”.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to “join together” ….for our own good.
To end: let us learn how to support each other!
Wouldn’t that be great … after being taught to “fight and compete with each other?” 
– Billy Harper

Great news: legendary jazz man and educator Billy Harper joined MFM’s Board of Directors last week. He’s a respected jazz musician, has a strong fanbase and has no problem to motivate jazz musicians to join MFM. For being “old school,” he thinks quite modern and liberal.

Since November last year he and Sohrab have been running monthly (jazz) musicians meetings called the MFM Public Musicians Forum in the Upper West Side.

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MFM Public Musicians Forum #4 Focuses Upon Women's Issues in the Music Business

Ladies Night!

Review by Dawoud Kringle

MFM Public Musicians Forum #4
Billy Harper, Sohrab, Roger Blanc and Jimmy Owens (photo by Dawod Kringle)

On Tuesday, March 27th, MFM held its fourth Public Musicians Forum at Yeoryia Studios in New York run by Billy Harper and MFM’s President Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi.

Saadat opened the meeting by bringing up the recent gun control protests. Here are a group of mostly teens who, overnight, organized a nationwide protest. He wondered aloud why Musicians can’t organize like that. The idea of a mass march for musician’s rights is a bit idealistic (let’s face it: musicians are not easily disposed toward the kind of organizational skills such a march would require). But it’s also not an impossibility.

Saadat also stated that he wishes to redefine MFM’s mission with more clarity. MFM is an association; it’s financed by its members. This, and other contours and characteristics of MFM need to be clearly explained so as to avoid misconceptions.

The meeting was largely devoted to women musicians’ rights and issues. This is something Saadat had wanted to address for a long time.

MFM Public Musicians Forum #4
Melanie Frey (photo by Dawoud Kringle)

MFM member Melanie Frey offered a presentation, and spoke on women’s issues in music. There is what is best described as “Unconscious Sexism” in music industry hiring. It is something that is often unconsciously practiced by people of good will, without their consciously realizing it. Yet others deliberately intend to discriminate against women.

In the April 2017 issue of International Musician magazine, “The gender gap of instrumental musicians has changed noticeably since 1978. It began narrowing significantly in the early 1990s, and the percentage of women musicians in orchestras has climbed to 46%-49% of the total musician pool in the two decades since. Most attribute this improvement to the advent of screened auditions.”

Orchestras implemented a process of screened auditions. Judges are prevented from knowing the gender or ethnicity of the person auditioning before and during the audition. Some discussion was devoted to this, and how it may be applied to the process for hiring for jazz club dates. Jazz ensembles and venues do not operate the way classical orchestras do: screened auditions will not produce the same result. With the exception of Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra adopting and new selecting procedures for jazz orchestra in 2016. This change was achieved by San Francisco’s jazz musician, activist and Chairperson of JazzWomen and Girls Advocates Ellen Seeling.

It was suggested that where the process goes wrong is that musicians only hire who they know or someone recommended by a friend. This process often starts – and ends with men. There is, of course, no easy way to circumvent this.

Frey handed out a few documents she’d prepared, and discoursed on four general related topics:

  1. Unconscious sexism in the music industry
  2. Music instructors discouraging
  3. Salesmen in music stores belittling female musicians
  4. Emails sent to Saadat regarding these women’s issues
MFM Public Musicians Forum #4
Michelle Shocked (photo by Dawoud Kringle)

The first and second topics seem to be interconnected and interchangeable. The dynamics of how female musicians (and musicians of diverse ethnicity) were discussed. There are multiple factors that determine how female musicians are seen and how they prosper. It was mentioned that the best way for female musicians to prosper may be for them to produce themselves.

The third topic dealt with presumptions about what a woman can and can’t play. Bottom line, just like some teachers, some music salesmen are idiots. Such people may exploit the vulnerability of women or young people, students, or people of milder temperament. Part of it is how women are educated, how they play (hard vs soft), the actual nature of the instrument they’re playing, the nature of the music that’s being played, etc.

The fourth topic centered around a letter from Francesca Tanksley. It was read aloud. Her letter addressed important points such as:

  1. Human beings having the right to be treated according to inherent human dignity.
  2. We have purpose, dreams, and aspirations, and are not mere objects that are used as a means to another person’s ends. In treating that person as less than human, one has stolen from that person, and from oneself, our inherent human dignity.
  3. We relate to each other by seeing in each other those human attributes – our dreams and aspirations – that we have all been given.
  4. Unconditionally acknowledging the undeniable fact that whosoever de-humanizes others de-humanized themselves. And whoever uplifts others, uplifts themselves.

The general consensus is that women need to stand up for themselves. Expecting some men to change their misogynistic ways without a more proactive (and possibly aggressive) holding of one’s ground in the face of such bullying is probably unrealistic.

On a personal note, I must state that the problems facing female musicians can very easily be solved with the simple foundation of logic, common sense, and good manners. If a woman can play the music well, she should be allowed to do so without having to qualify herself beyond her musicianship. This and embodying an attitude of common courtesy and respect. For years – millennia – this has not been the case with much of humanity. The thing that is needed is, to quote Tanksley’s letter, “a cultural shift in the way men view women, the way men view their fellow men, as well as in the way women view themselves, and their fellow women.” It’s simple; but the inevitable fact of human hubris and stupidity need to be overcome.

MFM Public Musicians Forum #4
Carla Maria Ruppy, Blue Ray, Ken Hatfield and Jimmy Owens (photo by Dawoud Kringle)

The final part of the meeting was devoted to the Music Modernization Act (MMA). Ken Hatfield, who just joined MFM’s Advisory Committee, spoke about this at some length. Hatfield mentioned that if MMA is passed, it will probably not get a lot of publicity. So we all need to pay close attention as things develop, especially regarding our concerns with it’s problems (which were addressed at the previous MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3). Hatfield also suggested we support the points that MusicAnswers advocates regarding our issues with the current version of MMA, such as (1) the makeup of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) Board and (2) issues of transparency (i.e. the right to audit the distribution of the funds, especially those that are unidentified). For more details on these issues please watch MusicAnswers’ Maria Schneider‘s video here explaining the issues and advising how to take action to improve the MMA by emailing to members of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and a few key senators.

The pros and cons of the MMA are a detailed subject requiring a separate article. A great deal of it was touched upon in the review of the MFM Public Musicians Forum #3.

MFM Public Musicians Forum #4
On Ka’a Davis and Reggie Sylvester (photo by Dawoud Kringle)

The fundamental changes that are occurring in the music business are rewriting the rules of how our business is conducted – and the fundamental attitudes toward music as a profession. It is essential to be on top of these issues. This is one of the reasons MFM exists; music professionals must take control of their own affairs and secure their own power in order to survive and avoid the exploitation they’d endured in decades past.

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Ken Hatfield Joins the MFM Advisory Committee

Let’s welcome Ken Hatfield to the MFM Advisory Committee who brings a wealth of knowledge of “the business.” He’s been attending several MFM meetings and did a presentation on the Music Modernization Act issues last month.

He shares with us the belief in a fair and sustainable musical eco-system in which all the participants share equally in the revenues generated by the use of our content especially via the platforms that the tech companies have created and maintain in order to disseminate our music to the audience that wants to consume it.

A Short Bio

Guitarist and composer KEN HATFIELD is a leading proponent of jazz played on the classical guitar. In 2006 the ASCAP Foundation recognized his significant contributions by presenting him with its prestigious Vanguard Award for “innovative and distinctive music that is charting new directions in jazz.”

Ken has released nine CDs as a leader that feature him performing his original compositions, either as a soloist or with his ensembles. He has published six books of his compositions, as well as his instructional book Jazz and the Classical Guitar: Theory and Application. Ken’s compositional experience covers a wide range of styles and instrumentations, including jazz works for his own ensembles, solo classical guitar works, choral works, and ballet scores for Judith Jamison, The Washington Ballet Company, and the Maurice Béjart Ballet Company. He has also written scores for television and film, including Eugene Richards’ award-winning documentary but, the day came.  

 

 

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David Belmont Joined MFM's Board Of Directors Yesterday!

David BelmontLet’s welcome David Belmont to our board of directors (BoD). He subs Paul Testagrossa who resigned yesterday due to his start up. Thanks Paul for the good work you have done. Good luck in your business!

About David Belmont

David Belmont (dobro, percussion) is a mixed media artist and community organizer living in New York City. An indie musician before the phrase was coined, David has produced over 30 albums of his own work since 1975. They includeInternational Steel Guitar (2014) with cellist Brent Arnold and WindWater Excursions (2000), which spent 8 months on the New Age Voice Top 100 Airplay list. He is currently co-music director of the Castillo Theatre, where he has arranged the score and sound design of 17 plays and musicals over the past 11 years.

 

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Review: The MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3: Laying the Groundwork for Action

By Dawoud Kringle (with Ken Hatfield and Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi)

MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3
Photo by Dawoud Kringle

On Tuesday, February 27th, the MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3 was held at Yeoria Studio. Organized by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi and Billy Harper, the agenda of the meeting was threefold. 1. Ken Hatfield and Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi were to discuss the Music Modernization Act (MMA). 2. The rights and problems of women musicians. 3. Organizing a Musicians’ March in NY and DC in 2019.

The attendance of these meetings is growing. Attendees this night included Ricky Ford, Cynthia Scott, Stanley Banks. Jimmy Owens, Robbi Kumalo, Bill Saxton, Melanie Frey; and Gene Ghee.

Saadat opened the meeting with a brief introduction. Hatfield hit the ground running with his discourse about the Music Modernization Act, and other bills that affect the future of digital music production, distribution, and remuneration for creators. Ken Hatfield handed out a document he’d prepared (later, Saadat joked that he’d asked Hatfield to prepare a one or two page document; Hatfield came with 10 pages). This document formed the main body of his discourse, and it covered a lot of ground.

A wide variety of interrelated subjects and problems were brought up, discussed, analyzed, dissected, and argued over. This began with a historical perspective (including the fact that present copyright laws have remained almost unchanged since 1909). This overview included:

1. The 1996, the Digital Music Copyright Act (DMCA), a US copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization. It criminalizes production of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted material (this became a necessity with the advent of the Internet; and the nature of digital music medium). One of the biggest problems with DMCA is section 512 (a.k.a. the “SAFE HARBOR” provision). This provision makes it impossible to sue the digital service providers (DSPs) when they violate our copyrights. Elimination (or as some propose revision / restriction) of section 512 would allow musicians a leverage similar to how the tobacco companies could be held financially accountable for the death and disease their product creates.

2. The Fair Play Fair Pay act (HR1836) which amends federal copyright laws to extend copyright owner’s rights to include the exclusive right to perform or authorize the performance of a recording publicly through the means of any audio transmission. It proposes that terrestrial broadcasters will have to pay the same four concerns that digital broadcasters now have to pay. Previously terrestrial broadcasts only generated revenues for composers and publishers (though at higher rates than those paid now by DSPs) while digital service providers pay (1) composers and (2) publishers…… each at much lower rates. Composers and publishers currently get 1/12th of what record companies and performers get) and also pay (3) owner(s) of the mechanical rights to the sound recording (generally a record company) and (4) the performing artist (i.e. the featured artists). Under FPFP all broadcasts would pay roughly the same (or similar) concerns and amounts. That is the game changer here.

3. The Classics Act: HR 3301, which was initiated by a bipartisan group of senators. If passed, HR 3301 could close major loopholes in US copyright law that left Artists out of the royalty payments of digital radio play in platforms such as Pandora and Sirius XM. Currently artists are not paid for their contributions/performances of digital broadcast of any recording created before 1972. This is the main loophole from the DMCA that the Classics Act closes.

4. The Case Act HR 3945. Copyright law is adjudicated in Federal Courts. Federal litigation is so expensive and complicated that most creators and small businesses cannot afford to enforce their own rights. Because of this, infringements regularly go unchallenged, and many creators feel disenfranchised by the copyright system. HR 3945 addresses the problem of federal courts having exclusive jurisdiction over copyright claims. Content creators will for the first times since DMCA be able to sue those that infringe upon our copyright and mechanical rights in small claims court for amounts up to $30,000 U.S.D. This also means that those guilty of infringement will (1) be limited regarding their delaying tactics, and (2) they will be more likely to have to pay and therefore will settle and hopefully cease and desist their infringements.

MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3
Photo by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi
MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3
Photo by Dawoud Kringle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Music Modernization Act. From legislative perspective this bill is important because 1. It is an omnibus bill that consolidates many of the best provisions of its predecessors into one bill and 2. It has substantial support from the major players in the music community, including ASCAP, BMI, RIAA, AFofM, and NMPA. The MMA promises to reform music licensing in ways that are advantageous to songwriters and composers in the modern digital age. The bill is, as of this writing, a work in progress. As such, some of the problems have yet to be worked out. The pros of the MMA include the fact that DSPs have finally agreed that they have to pay for every play/stream/broadcast use of our music (identified and unidentified). This money will go to the music community and no longer stay with the DSPs (as currently happens under the issuance of Notice Of Intentions (NOI) in lieu of or at least delaying our payments). This money will be distributed by a Collective (in some versions it is called the Mechanical Licensing Collective or MLC). This collective will be under the Library of Congress who will grant it a charter of 5 years duration.

This Collective will not only distribute tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars to writers and publishers, but it will also oversee (and create or choose/contract/outsource the creation of) a data base that all the DSP’s will rely on to identify and pay us accordingly for any and all of the music that the DSPs play/stream broadcast etc. or otherwise use to generate revenue for their business. The cons include the fact that the aforementioned collective as presently configured will be comprised of 10 publisher members and only 4 composer/writer members (and the publishers want to choose the writer members). There is little or no transparency for independent self-published writers /composers because the right to audit the Collective is limited to the Big Publishers (which means that Sony, Warner, and Universal will not only have the lions share of board members on the collective, but will be the only ones that can audit the Collective’s disbursements of the money they receive from the DSP’s). Additionally, it has been widely reported that these big publisher / record companies have substantial investments in several of the biggest streaming entities. This configuration of the Collective is clearly unfair when the writers are entitled (by law) to at least 50% of that revenue.

MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3
Photo by Dawoud Kringle

The music community will need to decide individually and collectively if we can live with the basic procedural intent of MMA while working to fix the issues we have with it before it is voted on by Congress. The DSPs see these issues as an internal disagreement within the music community (between publishers and writers), and do not care how we divide the money that they have agreed for the first time to pay us. The publishers may need this deal more than we do. However, it may be advantageous to accept the good provisions of the MMA, and deal with its problems later (with the exceptions of the Collective Board configuration and section 512, the Safe Harbor provision, which are unacceptable). Every single musician that writes any of their own material, and/or creates/produces their own recordings needs to educate themselves about the MMA and the 512 section of the DMCA and determine where they stand. Then they need to act accordingly to proactively help create a sustainable musical eco-system that we can all live with and prosper within.

MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3
Photo by Dawoud Kringle

The scope of this analysis is too complex to be sufficiently presented here; and is not complete. MFM is at work examining the dynamics of this, and especially the Music Modernization Act, which holds great promise. This publication will present MFM’s findings and position on these issues.

Hatfield brought up a few other related issues of importance that musicians need to be aware of. This includes the necessity of ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) codes, which will help to ensure that we get paid once a fair system is finally established.

MFM Jazz Musicians Meeting #3
Photo by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

The meeting was a fast paced and detailed analysis of the present situation we musicians are facing, and what can be done using the resources available to us. The streaming companies are willing to pay; though the details regarding method(s) of distribution of funds is still being fought out.

The subject of MMA was too complex a subject to simply skim over. And it brought a great number of other questions to the surface which has yet to be answered. Because of this, the other subjects of the meeting’s agenda (the rights and problems of women musicians, and organizing a Musicians’ March in NY and DC in 2019) were tabled for the time being.

In my review of the 2nd Jazz Musicians Meeting, I mentioned how MFM had reached a new milestone in its development as a musician’s advocacy organization. This night, that milestone was firmly established.

A handful of attendees agreed to work within the framework of a working group to address and act upon these issues. While the question remains whether they want to that privately or under the umbrella of MFM, an important step has been taken. This is where MFM can get into the game and affect real change for the music community.

While much work (both theoretical and practical) lay ahead, progress is being made. The agenda of MFM is no longer a mere theory. It is beginning to work.

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Arturo O'Farrill Did It Again…a Grammy for The Sixth Time!

Congrats and respect to our Board member Arturo O’Farrill for his Grammy Award for “Best Instrumental Composition: “Three Revolutions” from the new album “Arturo O’Farrill & Chucho Valdes / Familia: Tribute to Bebo & Chico.” 

Great to have this great musician…professional musician around us.

About the CD

‘Familia: Tribute to Bebo & Chico’ brings together two influential families in Afro-Cuban music in a celebration of their late patriarchs: pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Bebo Valdés and composer, arranger and bandleader Chico O´Farrill. It’s a multi-generational tribute led by Arturo O’Farrill and Chucho Valdés — Bebo and Chico’s sons, and major figures in their own right — which also features the next generation, including pianist Leyanis Valdés, drummer Jessie Valdés, trumpeter Adam O’Farrill (MFM member) and drummer Zack O’Farrill (MFM member as well).

Zack O'Farrill
Zack O’Farrill
Adam O'Farrill
Adam O’Farrill
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Review: Jazz Musicians Meeting #2 with Jazzman Billy Harper & Sohrab 

Text by Dawoud Kringle 

MFM founder Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi and jazz virtuoso Billy Harper organized a Jazz Musicians Meeting. This is the second of such meetings. Attendees such as Joe Lovano, Billy Harper, Ray Blue, Jimmy Owens, Ken Hatfield, Roger Blanc, and MFM members Reggie Sylvester, Michael Moss and others made the event a remarkable success.

The first thing that was noticeable was that the basic idea that making music is a profession (the foundation of MFM) was already so deeply ingrained in the psyche of the gathering that it was too obvious to even bear mentioning. The need to voice this basic fact has, in the context of this meeting, been transcended. The next step had been very decisively taken.

Saadat had invited many female professional musicians to the event. Unfortunately none showed up. The inclusion of women in these affairs is an important factor. The lack of the participation and contributions of female musicians was noticeable; and underscored the dire need to support gender equality in the music business.

The conversation began with a lively analysis of the harsh economic realities of trying to make a living as a musician. One interesting point that arose was how streaming outlets like Spotify, Pandora, etc., do not pay us a living wage. Spotify is particularly unsavory in their business practises. A musician will have to have millions of streams before he or she will see the most minuscule royalty statement (which by the way, if that monthly royalty does not meet a certain minimum, it does not spill over into the next month). Their entire business model is losing money: yet their CEOs are pulling in seven figure salaries. Where does this leave the musicians who actually produce Spotify’s content? Penniless. And the CEO’s platitudes are always the same: “it’s good exposure.”

Some problems that were discussed included playing clubs, the pros and cons of the Union, question of publishing royalties for composers and side men, and  the obsolete business models that are being used to exploit musicians.

Other subjects that could offer possible solutions were explored, including the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, CASE Act bill in Congress, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and setting up a corporation (LLC) and pay  into your own pension, arranging deals with BMI and ASCAP for guaranteed payments, and others which are attempting to level the playing field for musicians.

The nuts and bolts of record deals and how musicians can get paid was dissected under a microscope. Many anecdotes of personal experiences of different deals were compared and analyzed.

Jazz Musicians Meeting
Photo by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi w. Ken, Jimmy and Billy

 

Ken Hatfield was the main commentator on musician rights and issues. It is regrettable that his discourse was not recorded; it contained valuable information on the business.

Jazz Musicians Meeting
Photo by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi w. Joe, Reggie, Michael and Roger

Jimmy Owens shared ideas rooted in his experience as a musician activist. He gave good advice on business matters; and his anecdotes were priceless.

Joe Lovano gave some very interesting inside information about his business relationship with Blue Note Records.

Saddat’s contribution to the meeting – beyond his role in organizing it – was more in the background. He moderated a bit, and asked the group to share concerns, fears, and successes. This was a good sign: not because Saadat‘s contributions are irrelevant or superfluous. It simply signaled that the MFM model of “we” – i.e. a proactive and communal collective approach to diagnosing problems and implementing workable solutions, is finally taking shape.

Concerns were expressed about the future. The mechanization of business is reducing work opportunities for musicians, as well as all workers. Europe, as another example, has no more need for American jazz musicians. They developed to the point where they have their own branches of jazz. This poses a question: how do we get overseas gigs in the face of the present political (Trump) and economic climate? How do musicians set up health care, career development, etc. How does the working musician survive at all?

Photo by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi w. Jimmy, Billy, Ray and Roger

All attendees agreed that musicians need to organize and advocate the profession and business of music. It’s necessary that musicians get out from their individual mental boxes and start to listen to other musicians and share experiences. It was also reiterated that we shouldn’t play for free (one of the elders advised one of the younger attendees not to play at a club that doesn’t pay despite providing the backline).

One thing that’s important is drawing an audience’s attention. This is difficult because people don’t know how to listen to music.  We are fighting the dumbing down of America. Our best work is incomprehensible to most people. We can’t accomplish our long term objectives  without the audience understanding that we are not getting paid for the use of our work. Breaking through this is a priority.

Musicians got into their careers because of some inner spiritual idea. The music business  behaves in contrast to universal spiritual principles. We are walking a razor’s edge trying to survive and prosper through speaking universal truths directly into hearts. The American model of greed based business is simply not working. It is doomed to destruction. We need another way to do this.

This meeting was a milestone for MFM. It was a gathering of intelligent and experienced musicians who shared ideas in order to formulate a real workable plan of action. All attendees asked that these meetings be continued.

This could signal the beginning of a formidable movement.

 

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The Annual MFM Membership Meeting 2017 Report

MFM Rocks the Vote…

Report by Dawoud Kringle (Photos by Dawoud and Sohrab)

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017, MFM held it’s Annual Membership Meeting 2017. The meeting was held at the Brooklyn Music School (NY). 

This was an important event, because it serves as a platform for MFM members to make their voices heard. The main item on the agenda was voting on the Board of Directors (BoD) consisting of: Arturo O’Farrill (musician, band leader, composer, educator, activist and 5-times Latin Jazz Grammy Award winner), Paul Testagrossa (musician and MFM web developer), and Stefan Andemicael (DJ and Blue Note program director). Some MFM members emailed their votes in-absentia. Some of the attendees had limited time to stay: the sections of the meeting were arranged to accommodate this. 

The results of the election will be announced here on the MFM’s website, and on DooBeeDooBeeDoo NY.

A large part of the agenda was also devoted to of the meeting consisted of the 2017 Business Report. 

The meeting began with MFM founder and president Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi opening and describing how the meeting will proceed. 

Annual MFM Membership Meeting 2017In keeping with the MFM traditions of beginning with a musical performance, Kaveh Haghtalab offered a beautiful improvisation in a Persian Radif on the kamancheh. On a spontaneous urge, the attendees moved the chairs into a circle to better accommodate the performance. Afterward, Haghtalab explained what he’d played and answered questions. The conversation turned to his attraction to MFM. Saadat asked how he thought MFM would be received in Iran. This opened a labyrinthine discussion of the dynamics of the music business in Iran. According to him, a great many Iranian musicians are returning to Iran because they get paid better in Tehran than in the US, Evidently, the US’ claim to being progressive and entrepreneurial compared to other nations is not completely true.

Before long, Saadat steered the meeting to the main purpose of the meeting. After some discussion about the MFM mission, talk turned to the corruption within the music business. For example, MOMA books music performances and pays musicians little or nothing – with the usual platitude of “it will be good exposure.” The recent revelations about Spotify were also instructive. Spotify is consistently losing money, and the artists see nothing. But recent tax returns show CEOs and top executives of Spotify are pocketing seven figure salaries. This clearly explains why Apple Music is planning on copying Spotify’s debt ridden business model.

Annual MFM Membership Meeting 2017Annual MFM Membership Meeting 2017

Ultimately, the point was that musicians need to acquire positions of power. The way most musicians have been doing business has produced the exact opposite result. In fact, the whole mindset of playing for the vague and fruitless possibility of “exposure” or breaking our backs playing for nothing is a pathetic state of affairs. If MFM succeeds in dispelling this mindset, and inspiring musicians to take a stand for their professional due, it will have made a supreme accomplishment.

At Saadat’s introduction, Sylvain Leroux spoke of how he opened a music school in Guinea, and how his non-profit organization operates.

Saadat introduced Executive Director of the school and MFM member, Piruz Partow the head of the Brooklyn Music School. He spoke about how the school operates, it’s financial structure, and its commitment to music education. 

Annual MFM Membership Meeting 2017Pam Jennett, a.k.a. BAASSIK, offered a solo bass guitar performance. After a masterful display of funk infused bass discourse, she spoke briefly on her concept of music and how she approaches music as an art and s business.

Some more discussion on the MFM mission, history, and its considerable accomplishments, followed.

Another subject that was broached upon was female musician rights. It is no secret – yet rarely discussed – that women are paid less than men for the same hours and quality of work (this is not confined to the music business. Women make 15% to 25% of a male’s salary or fee. They also have less work opportunities than males; especially in the jazz world). Saadat has been urging female musician to join MFM. He’d also suggested to MFM member Lindsey Wilson to consider to found a female musician caucus in MFM.

After the discussions, debates, and controversies were concluded, there was the inevitable jam session at the end. This was the most fun part (let’s face it; put a bunch of musicians in a room with instruments, and sooner or later, music will be made). After some free improv, a tonal center of D was agreed on. A lively and nuanced musical conversation between the roomful of musicians ensued. Some of the highlights included Marco Lienhard on shakuhachi, guitarist On Ka’a Davis on piano, Lindsey Wilson on electric guitar, and yours truly on upright bass. 

Annual MFM Membership Meeting 2017One thing that was noticeable about the meeting was that there was somewhat of a lack of young people in attendance. This is a liability for MFM. The presence and energy of the younger generations of musicians, and the fresh perspective, unprecedented ideas, and fearless challenge to the status quo would be an asset for everyone.

That aside, the meeting was a success, and an important step in the development of MFM’s mission. As we face challenges and obstacles, we are moving into 2018 with determination and hope. 

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Review: MFM New Member Orientation November 2017

Date: November 27, 2017
Venue: WeWork Wall Street (NY)

Review by Dawoud Kringle (Photos by Dawoud and Sohrab)

The November 2017 MFM got off to a bang.

I opened the meeting, and explained the origins of MFM. Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi (MFM founder) augmented the presentation of the MFM mission of advocacy of musical professionalism.

There were some new prospects for membership, and a new member. Their presence and contributions made for a very interesting meeting.

Some impassioned discussion over questions of semantics needed to be ironed out. But the problem of musicians needing proper financial remuneration for our work, work that has real value, remains the priority.

There was some discussion about some of the individual artistic goals of the attendees.

MFM New Member Orientation November 2017

Saadat brought up an important point. All whose work contributes to the empowerment of professional musicians have value. Teachers, etc – all have value, all are relevant, and all have indispensable contributions to make.

The question arose of of how members are interacting with each other. Saadat described how MFM is a business league. We need this solidarity to stand toe to toe with the likes of Google, and other such giants as equals.

The finances of MFM were discussed. MFM has operated in the red since its inception. But MFM’s financial investment is bearing fruit. The highly successful events MFM has presented are moving MFM in a very progressive direction. A financial statement will be published.

MFM is working toward building its membership. The importance of this cannot be overstated. The goals of MFM are of vital importance to the musical community. This can only be happen through numbers and solidarity.

People are going to be skeptical about MFM. And they should be: every musician who reads this has horror stories about dealings with shady characters. It’s perfectly understandable to want to carefully examine this organization before deciding to join or not. It’s a new idea; one that few, if any, have ever attempted before. And in this lay it’s greatest promise.

It’s worth taking a look at.

PS: Michael Moss (composer, sax, flute and clarinet) who attended the Orientation for the first time decided to join MFM after this meeting.