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Review: MFM Workshop "Make Music Your Business" #7 w. David Newhoff

“Professional musicians – whether they’re performers, composers, or both – rely on strong copyright protections for their careers.” – David Newhoff

Date: February 23, 2017
Venue: WeWork Wall Street (NY)

Text by Dawoud Kringle

Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi and David Newhoff
Photo by Dawoud

 

The 7th MFM workshop started as a detailed talk, and became a lively discussion about the vital topic of copyrights in the 21st century.

MFM founder Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi opened the meeting with a description of MFM’s mission statement. This was followed by a brief description of MFM’s workshops, and the workshop of February 23rd, 2017 with David Newhoff.

David Newhoff is a writer and copyright advocate, who has worked as a consultant to Copyright Alliance, Creative Future, and the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property. His blog, The Illusion of More: Dissecting the Digital Utopia is followed by artists, legal professionals, institutional and independent rights holders, and policymakers.

As is the tradition of MFM workshops, a brief musical performance preceded the talk. The author played a solo guitar piece; and improvisation on a medley of two of his compositions.

Newhoff began with a flashback to the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) controversy of 2011. It proved to be a failure. He led this into the concept of “Copyright Activism.” Newhoff devoted time to explain the basics of copyrights.

One issue that was addressed was the modernization of the copyright office. Being a government agency, it does not run efficiently (its operations are plagued by slow turnarounds, antiquated computer systems, etc.). The large data companies (most notably Google, Amazon, Pandora, etc.) all operate very efficiently. Unfortunately, these Silicon Valley corporations have been circumventing their responsibility to copyright holders.

Workshop w. David Newhoo attendees
Photo by Dawoud

 

The participants were far from passive. The entire workshop became a lively round of discussion on the dynamics of 21st century copyright law, the relation and interaction between copyrights and publishing, the legal gray areas of copyrights, and the unprecedented changes in not only the enforcement and application of copyright laws, but their actual definition.

As the workshop drew to a close, the discussion veered toward the state of change within the music business, with no clearly defined processes. The entire dynamic and paradigm of the music business has rendered the old copyright laws obsolete. The activist efforts to modify the laws to the advantage of musicians / artists are meeting resistance from Silicon Valley (such as Google). Different groups are fighting over how to redefine the rules, and very few ideas are in the works that promise an asset to all and a liability to none. Newhoff and his associates are working toward this goal.

David Newhoff workshop w. On Ka'a Davis (left) and Cormac (right)
Photo by Dawoud

The aforementioned MFM tradition of a musical performance also happens at the end of the workshops. Violinist Naomi Florin offered a beautiful rendition of two short pieces by Bela Bartok.

MFM’s choices for the subjects of workshops have been consistently useful to musicians. This service is proving valuable to the musical community, and has earned the support MFM is receiving and will doubtless continue to receive.

Naomi Florin performing @ Workshop w. David Newhoff

Below are a list of resources for musicians who wish to explore this topic in detail.

www.copyrightalliance.org

www.copyhype.com (Terry Hart)

www.illusionofmore.com (David Newhoff)

www.musictechpolicy.com (Chris Castle)

www.thetrichordist.com (David Lowery)

www.zoekeating.com (Zoe Keating)

www.copyright.nova.edu (Stephen Carlisle)

www.creativefuture.org

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Review: MFM Workshop "Make Music Your Business" #6 w. Rick DellaRatta (Justice For Peace)

Jazz for Peace provides Empowerment Grants, sustainable funding and advocacy for non-profits and all outstanding causes worldwide for over a decade to enable them to be more productive and successful.

Date: September 27, 2016
Venue: WeWork Wall Street (NY)

Review by Dawoud Kringle

The MFM workshop “Make Music Your Business” #6 with jazz musician, activist and founder of the social justice non-profit organization Jazz For Peace (JFP) Rick DellaRatta was another informative episode in the MFM story.

After MFM founder Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi opened the meeting with a brief description of MFM’s agenda. Sohrab introduced DellaRatta. He’d learned of DellaRatta from an article he’d written in Local 802’s Allegro magazine . The article focused on his adventurous musical trip to Lahore, Pakistan to promote child literacy that was promoted throughout JFP.

Workshop #6 scene

DellaRatta began by speaking about the aforementioned trip to Pakistan which was hosted by a Christian charity organization. During his stay he was under constant threat of violence.

In between, Sohrab spoke how open and free the Jazz tradition is, as opposed to the classical music of other societies (Europe, India, Persia, Japan,  etc.), and how this element of jazz was well suited to the cross-cultural projects JFP is involved with.

Some years back, DellaRotta recited a poem he’d written at the Savannah Jazz festival. He set the poem to music and ended up bringing this to several places throughout the world. Eventually he established the JFP foundation. As time went on, JFP has received endorsements from the likes of President Barak Obama, and Sen. John McCain.

A video was shown that described the mission of JFP. More information will be found at jazzforpeace.org. This website helps musicians understand the process by which they can apply for grants, and strengthen their own financial position.

After showing the video DellaRatta performed a musical piece: a piano and vocal interpretation of “Cherokee.” His piano playing was marvelous; he navigated the changes with both ease and a poetic grace. His vocals, while not spectacular, were expressive and warm. He’d played this at his event in Lahore. One wonders what impression it made upon those unfamiliar with the intricacies and zeitgeist of Jazz. I asked how the piece was received (considering the vast difference of musical traditions). He said that he is always aware of his audience’s perspective, and led them into the piece with more familiar music (which in this case, was from Christian tradition).

After this, he got down to the three steps of the “Empowerment Tree Grant” process. The first step “CAREFULLY REVIEW THE BENEFITS OF THIS GRANT” is to watch the original video to review the benefits of this grant. There are also links to the grant recipients to give an idea of how this has assisted others. It is important to define goals.

The second step “HELP US PLANT THE ROOTS OF YOUR EMPOWERMENT TREE” is introducing yourself to JFP’s board. This is done through an application process their website walks you through. Part of this involves sharing the application.

Step three “ACHIEVE FUNDING APPROVAL WITH OUR ASSISTANCE” is the process of linking people with like minded objectives in order to produce an event. This later is important in that musicians and supporters must be matched up according to compatibility of vision and objective.

 

Empowerment Tree

 

Some time was devoted to explaining the JFP “Empowerment Tree”. This is a model of how the JFP grant process empowers musicians. Each branch is an integral part of the process. For example, Branch 1 defines  what supporters will profit from your event, Branch 2 (or, more specifically, the “trunk”) consolidates five local businesses that will sponsor the project, Branch 3 focuses on publicity and awareness, etc. The process is presented in concise detail on their website.

DellaRatta concluded the workshop with a beautiful rendition of Jobim’s Fotografia.”

JFP is bringing a new and innovative business model that links grants for musicians and music organizations with charities and other forms of public service. It’s a win – win situation for everyone.

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Review: MFM Workshop “Make Music Your Profession” #5 With Brian Poole

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Date: August 24, 2016
Venue: WeWork Wall Street (NY)
Review by Dawoud Kringle

This next workshop in the series on health was titled Preparing For Your Encore. The event was presented by Dr. Brian Poole, chiropractor and owner of Encore Chiropractic. (http://encorechiropractic.com/).

As is the custom of an MFM meeting or workshop, a musical offering preceded the talk. I had the honor of presenting this music. I played a selection from my Harmolodic Raga Cycle, The Adulterous Moon on dilruba.

Poole began with a brief introduction. This included some personal history; specifically, how he became interested in being a chiropractor. At age 14, he suffered from chronic, debilitating, headaches. After months of pain, his parents took him to a chiropractor. The experience inspired his passion for chiropractic medicine and his need to help people who are also suffering by providing a solution.

Poole then presented a very different perspective on the chiropractic science, and the specific health problems related to chiropractic medicine that musicians deal with. These include overuse of muscles, postural problems, the body’s reaction to carrying heavy items, weird schedules, weather and environmental changes, technical flaws, excessive tensions in the body and mind, stress, and illness. Musicians put their body through more trauma than most people realize. Poole went on to discuss the psychological effects of injury or illness. This is something musicians are constantly worried about, as injuries and health issues would threaten our careers.
The question of what are we looking for health-wise is often overlooked. There are the common things (such as the presence and absence of symptoms, whether the symptom a problem, etc.). Symptoms are the last thing to show up, and the first to go away. This also relates to back problems and movement.
Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi MFM Workshop #5 host
Photo by Dawoud Kringle
The Four Foundations of Health:
1. Nutrition
2. Movement
3. Sleep
4. Balanced Nervous System
The later is where chiropractic medicine comes in.
The aspect of the function of health to the musician was examined with considerable detail. This was actually prefaced with the phrase “express yourself before you wreck yourself.” The nervous system, brain functions, tissues, muscle, skeletal system, etc. were described in terms of good and bad functions, and an exchange of information. The malfunction of this exchange of information was called vertebral subluxation (i.e. stress, exceeding bodily limits, and a breakdown of nervous system function).
The primary goal of health is the body’s ability to adapt to stress.
A chiropractor deals primarily with the brainstem. This is analogous to a circuit breaker. The brainstem is where the brain enters the body. All signals enter and pass through there. It is most powerful neurological area, and it’s the center of stress reaction.
MFM Workshop #5 attendees
Photo by Dawoud Kringle
Encore starts its diagnosis and treatment with a nervous system check. Instrumentation measurements, biochemical imaging, etc. then, the specific problems / ailments, are then determined to be a problem of nervous system function. Poole explained that chiropractic medicine is actually centered around nervous system functions.
The practice of preventative medicine was discussed. It’s cheaper to eat right, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest than to deal with a heart attack.
Then we were led through a series of simple yet effective exercises to help maintain back and spine health. I must confess I felt quite refreshed afterward!
The final thing that was brought up was trust between the patient and the health care provider. This is of utmost importance.
Lindsey Harris & Reggie Sylvester
Photo by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

 

The workshop concluded with a different musical offering. Singer / guitarist / songwriter Lindsey Wilson and percussionist Reggie Sylvester performed a song about Trayvon Martin. The music was quite beautiful, but serious, and haunting in both its sincerity and intensity.

The workshop was clearly a success. It’s indicative of MFM’s progressive, musician-centric agenda, and forward thinking in addressing the needs of the musical community.
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Review: MFM Workshop "Make Music Your Profession" #4 with Ken Umezaki (Digital Daruma)

Music is a Digital Commodity!

Date: July 14, 2016
Venue: WeWork Wall Street

Review by James J. Rehm

On Thursday, July 14th, 2016, I traveled to Manhattan from a farm on long island where I volunteer to attend the MFM workshop “Make Music Your Profession – Exploring Music as a Digital Commodity”. Upon arriving at my destination, I settled in the conference room at WeWork Wall Street. Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, the president of MFM, opened the program by expressing that living life as a musician is indeed a profession.

Marco Lienhard presented a music performance on the shakuhachi. He introduced it as a piece that Japanese samurai used to aid in meditation. The music was beautiful and strong. As I closed my eyes and listened, I wondered if the music was an improvisation or a compilation of pieces that have been played for hundreds of years.

 

Ken Umezaki speaking
Photo by Alex Abagiu

 

Ken Umezaki of Digital Daruma gave a presentation providing information about what is going on in the music business today. Compared to the past, musicians now have more possibilities to distribute content as a commodity without the middle man. Quoting Ken: “The digital economy has commoditized music, with profound ramifications for musicians or creators, consumers and the music industry across everything they do.”

Umezaki spoke about how much music is being created today, upwards of 20,000 songs a day, and how the digital music ecosystem attempts to bring content creator and fan together in a direct way. This is important when you see how much money is being made by the middle men.

Umezaki’s presentation reinforced how important it is for musicians to have a website that is user friendly and appealing to the targeted audience.

The presentation was incredibly informative for those of us navigating the “digital jungle” without a machete. On a personal level, Umezaki’s words allowed me to reflect on my professional life and the value of my work as a musician, an artist, and a performer.

Umezaki was positive about the future of music as a commodity business. He advised musicians to use the power of digital technology and social media to get their content out to the world and build a connection with fans and consumers.

At the conclusion of his presentation, the floor was open for questions.

Ken Umezaki with workshop attendees
Photo by Alex Abagiu

The workshop was closed by Michael Braudy on violin. He offered his original improvised music which was influenced by Japanese and (what sounded to my ears as) Scottish music. I liked what he offered very much. It was meditative as well; sweet, succinct, and mindful.

After the workshop people broke bread, passed out business cards, made connections, and left with a higher understanding of what it means to be a musician in New York City, in the world as a whole, and more specifically, what it means to be a musician working through the digital jungle. It doesn’t look so bad for musicians in the future. MFM is advocating that there is work and a future if musicians make music a business.

There is nothing to fear.

Marco Lienhard and Michael Braudy
The Musicians
(Photo by Alex Abagiu)
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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 www.gcbprivatewealth.com. 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 GigSalad.com founder Mark Steiner.

GigSalad.com 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.

soundfile: https://soundcloud.com/sohrab-saadat-ladjevardi/david-belmont-plays-germania

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