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Review: MFM Workshop “Make Music Your Business” #3 with Matthew Flaherty

Health Issues A Neglected Concern for Musicians is Addressed

Date: June 27, 2016
Venue: WeWork Wall Street
Review by Dawoud Kringle


The third MFM Workshop kicked off with MFM founder Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi introducing the organization’s history, and statement of purpose. Saadat made an interesting point; music is not dying out. Musicians can make their situation work, despite the inherent difficulties, and the changing times. We can make a success of ourselves if we have the smarts and the courage.

With that, James Rehm offered the traditional MFM Workshop and Meeting musical interlude. He played and sang an original song, “Ensalada, Empanada, Hello, Adios.”

The speaker was Matthew Flaherty, MS, CSCS (National Strength &.Conditioning Association, National Acadamy of Sports Medicine, StringFirst, Titleist Performance Institute, Functional Movement Screen) was introduced. After introducing himself and his credentials, he went into some details of how he applies his knowledge of health and strength conditioning to the specific needs of musicians.

His company, Stafford Strength, bases their program on the individual’s goals, needs, results, and wants. He explained the FMS: a seven point screen looking at mobility, stability, and coordination.

His program stresses training for longevity. Some discussion was offered on how the body ages, the factors of illness, pain, etc.

Sometimes these problems can be fixed with changes in one’s breathing pattern. Flaherty spoke about the advantages of diaphragmatic breathing, or “crocodile breathing.” Many attendees were in agreement with this, knowing that proper breathing is important to a musician (and some self-depreciating jokes all around about how easily we forget it).

Posture is an important thing for musicians to consider. Musicians often have specific movements that make changes in their bodies. These asymmetrical anomalies have to be rebalanced. He stressed that things cannot be trained in isolation, only in coordination with the whole body.

Preventative measures include rest, recovery, massage, acupuncture, stretch, and GTG (greasing the groove). Also keeping hydrated, drinking plenty of water. Nutrition was also touched upon (another problem area for some musicians).

After a variety of subjects were covered and brought to the table for analysis, the workshop drew to its conclusion. In keeping with the MFM tradition, Jim Rehm played one more song, Taj Mahal’s “She Caught The Katy,” and the meeting was closed.

Flaherty shared a lot of practical information. It’s clear he knows his craft well, and knows how to apply it to a wide variety of situations and individual health needs. He has some experience as an amateur musician, and knows how some health issues are specific to musicians; even to different instrumentalists (e.g. Movement and body problems of guitarists as opposed to percussionists). Flaherty’s company, Stafford Strength will be working with MFM, and offering the option of much needed health and strength improvement for musicians.

Stafford Strength is offering a 10% discount for Musicians for Musicians members. Details can be found in the Members Portal.

Overall, the workshop was a lively and informative presentation.  And it was a lot of fun too!

Previous Workshops

MFM Workshop “Make Music Your Business” #1 with GigSalad

MFM Workshop “Make Music Your Business” #2 with LegalShield

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Review: MFM Workshop “Make Music Your Business” #2 with LegalShield

MFM’s 2nd Monthly Workshop Tackles Tough Legal Issues with the Help of LegalShield


Date: May 23, 2016
Venue: WeWork Wall Street
Review by Dawoud Kringle

On Monday, May 23rd, Musicians For Musicians (MFM) presented its second workshop: A legal workshop for musicians with LegalShield Associates, Mike Juliano and Brad Bolnick.

LegalShield is a subscriber service that provides professionals and families with unlimited access to a network of law firms in an economical legal service in all 50 states. They are endorsed by the National Association of Attorneys General, and rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. LegalShield’s structure protects their clients, offers legal advice, and helps create a legal structure that protects one’s business. In the case of musicians, this is essential. LegalShield’s website offers a variety of templates for different legal documents or contracts (e.g. photography releases, a non-disclosure agreement or NDA, loans, etc.). LegalShield allows musicians the same legal resources that a musician with a larger budget has. If, for example, a struggling musician’s song is stolen by someone. He has no legal recourse, because he hasn’t the resources to hire lawyers and file a lawsuit. LegalShield provides this. Their business model allows all people to have equal access to the same legal advice and protection that was once the exclusive privilege of the rich. They also offer membership perks, such as discounts with other businesses.

Michael Juliano is a writer, award winning filmmaker, former professional musician/music publisher and an associate through LegalShield. His music has been on commercial radio around the world. He was sought by major and independent record labels before moving into the film business. Brad Bolnick is a commercial actor, LegalShield broker, and financial consultant with his firm Brad specifically works with musicians, actors and arts professionals on financial empowerment.

MFM founder and president Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi opened the workshop with an introduction to what MFM does and believes. He introduced Mike and Brad. Mike spoke a bit about LegalShield, and touched briefly on his affiliation with the Freelancers Union, and their pursuits. Early in the meeting, one of the participants shared that he’d previously engaged LegalShield’s services, with satisfactory results.

The workshop covered a wide variety of topics; ones often overlooked by most musicians. These included band, manager, and gig agreements, money owed from performances, non disclosure agreements for creative projects not ready for the public, copyright Infringement, licensing, contracts, registrations of works, and other relevant topics. All this stemmed from the importance of one’s music career and project having a sound business structure.

Aspects of both the legal structure of a musical / band, and other aspects of business / personal affairs were discussed in considerable detail. One interesting, and for me, new, idea that was presented was the process of incorporation. In this, bands would not generally incorporate as a collective entity. Instead, the individual members will incorporate, and then work together under a contractual agreement. The idea here is of band members having a contractual agreement about distribution of revenues. One of the advantages of working through LegalShield is that it is a cooperative of clients and legal workers; not a law firm. A conflict of interest does not happen if two LegalShield members are engaged in a lawsuit.

Brad illustrated an interesting example of how a band can maneuver a legal problem. A band with four members, each of whom has legal protection through LegalShield, is cheated by their record company. This can be approached as each individual member of the band, plus the band as a corporate entity, can file a lawsuit against the record company. An individually strong, and at the same time, united front, will offer more efficient legal protection to musicians.

One of the things discussed was the importance of non-disclosure agreements. An example being a bandleader showing his / her work to band members, or whomever. An NDA will protect the bandleader, songwriter / composer from having his music and intellectual property taken from him. Non-disclosure agreements can also include non-imitation clauses. In other words, an artistic concept or public persona specific to an artist / band can be protected from theft or blatant imitation by an NDA.

There was some discussion about the pros and cons of contracts between friends or long standing associates, and the best way to approach this. A legal structure protects musicians / bands from predators—and anyone in the music business knows there are predators (in fact, many music business professionals who prey on musicians are former—and frustrated / failed—musicians who understand how to exploit musicians’ weaknesses). In the course of the discussion, it was stated that the presence of contracts will immediately weed out people who will attempt to cheat you. An honest person will not be intimidated by the presence of a contract; nor by one’s insistence upon having a contractual agreement.

Ultimately, it’s not what we know that hurts us, it’s what we don’t know. What’s important is clarity.

Toward the end of the workshop, there was discussion about the purpose and function of MFM. Saadat offered clarity about how MFM functions and what it offers its members.

The workshop ended with MFM member David Belmont performing a solo guitar piece. The brief piece he played had shades of the kind of colorful chordal structure found in the vintage works of Oregon / Ralph Towner. It was quite beautiful (although, it was unfortunate that the participants in the workshop were so stoked by the stimulating and inspirational ideas that were discussed that many people did not give Benoit’s music the attention it deserved).

This workshop is indicative of the direction MFM is moving. The foundation’s humble beginnings are clearing up its former ambiguity with astonishing speed, and presenting actual practical benefits that empower musicians. Expecting more great things along these lines is not an unreasonable assumption.

Previous Workshops

MFM Workshop “Make Music Your Business” #1 with GigSalad

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Review: MFM Workshop "Make Music Your Business" #1 With Mark Steiner (GigSalad)

Make Music Your Business #1: GigSalad A Good Business Model For Gigging Musicians

Text by Dawoud Kringle

Make Music Your Business #1 is Musicians For Musicians (MFM) first workshop featuring founder Mark Steiner. is an online service that connects entertainment buyers, event planners, venues, festivals, and other standard live music outlets (weddings, corporate events, memorial services, etc.) with musicians, singers, non-musical performers, models, comedians, actors, and other performers. Buyers and event planners are also members, which facilitates performers and buyers finding each other. GigSalad is also partnering with other services, such as CD Baby.

GigSalad is proving to be a good business model. Some of the attendees shared their experience with GigSalad, and the reports have been favorable. It’s also managed to secure good search engine optimization. Searches for various types of musicians often have GigSalad artists come up first on Google.

“Make Music Your Business” #1 with GigSalad w. David Belmont
David Belmont (Photo by Dawoud Kringle)

The workshop opened with MFM founder Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi addressing the gathering with a description of MFM’s agenda. This was followed by an MFM tradition: opening an event with a musical offering. This time, the music was presented by David Belmont. His offering was a beautifully lyrical solo acoustic guitar composition called “Dunsany.”

After introductions, Steiner shared how GigSalad began. In a nutshell, after working in a number of music business related ventures, he decided he wanted to make something that would serve the needs of the musicians who are looking for work. This led to the idea for GigSalad in 2003. It originally started as a directory, and evolved into a cyber booking agency.

The discussions that ensued covered a wide variety of topics that were not only relevant to what GigSalad is doing, but also in how to define and meet the specific needs of musicians. The questions and topics included the following:

– Covers vs. original music (the financial advantages to doing covers is obvious).

– Pricing for musicians’ work (a good tip that was offered was that during the initial negotiations, give your price, including all you expenses; but do not explain immediately how it breaks down [i.e. travel, lodging, etc.]. The buyer will immediately see this as the price. In other words, include everything in the upfront quote).

Make Music Your Business #1
Photo by Dawoud Kringle


– Marketing of different and specialized genres

and niche markets was discussed (one suggestion that was offered was to do a search for your own genre / service, and see what kind of market for your work exists. This would help determine your marketability; and help you to decide if GigSalad is right for you).

– How often to gig, and how to properly represent oneself.

– One’s self worth as an artist was brought up. In other words, raising your standards and valuing your work, and pricing yourself accordingly.

– The merits and details of GigSalad’s three levels of membership: Free, Pro, and Featured; weighing merits as opposed to costs.

Other useful advice was offered to optential GigSalad clients, such as getting your clients to review you (good reviews are gold), having good video (this is how people most directly are introduced to your work), and other tips and trick to make this work to your advantage.
While this was going on, a mockup profile was made as a demonstration of GigSalad’s services.

The day of the workshop was actually Matt Steiner’s birthday. In celebration of this, (and as a lucrative business arrangement for all parties concerned) he offered MFM members one year of membership with GigSalad free.

Belmont offered a closing musical piece called “Germania;” a blues that made imaginative use of guitar harmonics.


The first MFM Workshop was quite successful. If this is any indication of the direction MFM’s services to its members is heading, this fledgling effort is more than promising.

Make Music Your Business #1

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#3 MFM Open Meeting Minutes Report

Date: February 23, 2016
Location: CA Music Room (NY)
Attendees: 4

MFM Open Meeting, February 23, 2016

7:15 – Sohrab began the meeting with a musical offering.

7:20 – Attendees introduced themselves. Copies of meeting agenda, mission statement & IRS 501(c)6 description were distributed.

7:25 – Sohrab explained a few details of the ambiguity of the legal status musicians have regarding categorize how they will be paid (status as employees, independent contractors, employers, etc.)

7:30 – Sohrab explained more of MFM’s procedures, goals, he explained that while MFM cannot address individual problems, it can address collective problems (e.g. if someone wants health insurance, MFM cannot provide this. But they can provide a referral through the member portal that is being built that is accessible only through members).

7:38 – Previous continued and expanded. “Professional musician” was defined as any musician who either makes their living through music, or aspires to it. “Anyone who lives from music.”

7:47 – Sohrab mentioned some people whose support he is cultivating, including Yo-Yo Ma, David Byrne, Johnny Rotten, Bruce Springsteen, Harry Belafonte.

7:50 – Sohrab brings up why musicians need to organize. The main point he made as that all musicians come to a point where they need help. MFM is attempting to set up a collective where musicians can support each other. “Music is about sharing.”

7:55 – Sohrab mentioned that part of this is for musicians to tell the public that they are professionals. Jimmy Owen mentions that the quality of one’s performance is usually enough to prove their bona fides. Discussion ensued.

8:01 – Emphasis is made that MFM makes no distinction regarding ethnicity, nationality, genre and style, or age group. All are equal, all are welcome.

8:03 – Explaining and discussion discussion about MFM’s IRS status (501(c)6 defining donations/ contributions not being tax exempt. Discussion is made about the difference between MFM’s business model and that of the musician’s Union.

MFM presents only a business league of professional musicians and has the right to be political active and lobby.

8:08 – A photo is taken.

8:09 Sohrab being up again approaching the 1%: to support MFM. Jimmy asked what would be their motive for joining. Sohrab responded “If they have a Heart!”

8:15 – Member’s benefits were discussed.

8:17 More discussion about employee / worker vs. independent contractor. Jimmy Owens speaks about the Justice For Jazz Artists (J4JA) campaign. Discussion of the tax exemption incident (clubs were not legally obligated to pay into union pension fund, despite agreeing to do so).

8:25 – Sohrab announces MFM official endorsers:

  1. Grammy Award winner: Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
  2. David Liebman (musician and educator)

8:31 – Sohrab discusses MFM’s business plan for this year

  1. Work out a business plan which will take another month
  2. Start with workshops for our members with Mark Steiner (founder of GigSalad) in April, David Liebman (jazz saxophonist, educator and writer, ex Miles Davis member) in May, Arturo O’Farrill (afro-latin pianist, band leader and educator) t.b.a..
  3. Organize a fundraiser event – MFM FEST – for end of November/beginning of December
  4. Recruit members
  5. update the members portal
  6. Get financial support by well-known professional musicians
  7. Get endorsed by well-known professional musicians
  8. Get grands, any kind of funding or contributions from other “musicians friendly” foundations or organizations
  9. Invite well-known professional musicians to the board
  10. Make member cards

8:42 – Meeting closed. Discussions continued nonetheless.

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NYC Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs Holds Hearing on Freelance Isn’t Free Act; Graphic Artists, Writers, Domestic Workers and more Rally at City Hall in Support of Bill

1.3 Million Freelancers in NYC; Average Lost to Nonpayment Epidemic: $5,968 / year

WHAT: At press conference before NYC Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee hearing, gig workers rally behind bill to stop NYC’s nonpayment epidemic, pass “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act.

WHO: Representatives of NYC’s 1.3 million freelancers, including wage theft victims
Freelancers Union
Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin
Council Member Rafael Espinal, Chair Consumer Affairs Committee.
United Federation of Teachers (UFT)
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Make the Road New York
New York Tech Meetup

WHERE: City Hall Steps

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 29th, at 12pm (Hearing at 1 p.m.)


The “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act (Int. 1017) requires any company who hires a freelance worker to execute a simple written contract, describing the work to be completed, the rate and method of payment, and date when payment is due. Deadbeat companies who refuse to pay, or try to force freelancers to wait months to get paid in full, would have to answer to the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs and face penalties, including double damages, attorney’s fees, and civil penalties. The bill is sponsored by Council member Brad Lander and has 27 co-sponsors.

Here is the RSVP page

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Next Open MFM Meeting This Month!

Date: Monday, January 25, 2016
Location: CA Music Room, 218 E. 25th Street (btw 3rd and 2nd Avenues), New York, NY 10010
Time: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

The first open MFM meeting of this year will be hosted by president and musician Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi and attended by some of the board members. The purpose of this meeting is to let musicians know that they have a “home” in NY. Make them understand that there’s an organization which is run by their own peers who care for them and understand their needs. And it’s about “US” as a business league which is represented by the MFM.

The meeting’s agenda will be announced next week, but following subject will be discussed:

1. Discuss the MFM’s mission and member code of ethics
2. Present opportunities and benefits for members
3. Discuss the importance of pay for gigs

Attending musicians are welcome to speak out about some of their issues

Every musician who reads or hears about this meeting should show up and find out whether he or she wants to be on board. MFM invites you to become a member, because it’s your home – run and financed by you – and only numbers can only make change in our musicians lives.