Why pay bands when you can have them for free?

Apparently musicians aren’t worthwhile.

At least, that’s what the Super Bowl seems to think. Time Business released an article noting that Bruno Mars has been added to the list of musicians that have played Super Bowl half time. For FREE.

“We’re putting someone up there for 12 and a half minutes in front of the largest audience that any television program garners in the United States,” NFL Director of Programming Lawrence Randall, told TIME last year. “It’s a pretty good deal. It’s the famous win-win for both parties.” (TIME)

On the surface: Sure. Playing the Super Bowl can lead to an increase in an artist’s sales and add to exposure.

But this whole situation is indicative of a bigger problem.

First of all–if you’re a musician/band that has been selected to play a gig like the Super Bowl then you’re probably pretty well known. And if you’re a musician/band that is already well known, the chances are that you’ve spent most of your life honing your talents, and working your way up centimeter by centimeter, inch by inch

The road to making a living off of art is not an easy path, and it’s fraught with people who Don’t Get It.

Bands just getting started deal with the free gigs more often than they get paid ones. Writers freelance for little to no money and hope that maybe, just maybe, this submission will get them somewhere. Artists find themselves in gallery receptions where they hear the double edged sword of compliments, “Wow, this is so beautiful, but why is it so expensive?”  It’s like somewhere in between the idea of a piece and the final product, the work of creating gets lost on the larger public. Creating is work. It involves time. It involves tools. Just like any other job.

The music industry has made it a priority to stamp out pirating. Buy the albums! Support the artists! Don’t steal music! But then you’ve got moments like these, where musicians are basically being robbed. The NFL argues that the show is only 12 and a half minutes and they’ll grant great exposure. Okay. Fine. So does that mean that if I’m a super famous celebrity and I suddenly have a health issue,  I can go into a hospital and demand the doctor to treat me but not get paid? “Oh it’ll only be an hour of your time, and you’ll have the honor of working on me. Oh and I’ll tell all of my friends.”

Ummm….Not so great. Just like doctors have spent years of their lives studying and working to get to their professional level, so have musicians. For the NFL to discount that fact is abhorrent. Let’s not forget that the musicians that play the Super Bowl put in way more than 12 minutes. They’re going to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse some more. They’re going to make sure that they have everything in place and ready to go. There’s travel. They need to make sure they’ve got the equipment they need and they need to get them from point A to point B. This is time. This is energy. This is travel. And they deserve to be compensated like any other professional field.

The attitude of the NFL and their continued practice of this policy is dangerous because it affects far more than Bruno Mars, Madonna, and other big name musicians. This attitude can easily be translated on a local level where popular venues or festivals can use similar logic to damn aspiring musicians. In some cases, it can be taken so far that the venue/promoter demands musicians to pay for the honor of playing their venue. This is a thing. And this is problematic.

I unfortunately don’t have the ins and outs to help fix this problem. But what I can encourage everyone to do–including myself–is to remember to really appreciate art. Appreciate the work and energy that went into the art/music/writings that you enjoy. Remember that the work of creating is difficult and time consuming. And  support the art that matters to you. Buy their albums. Go to shows. Buy their sweaters and posters and stickers. If you’re an artist of any medium, do your best work and make sure you’re getting recognized for it.

On that note, I’m going to stop talking and share the internet meme that has gone around. It’s more eloquent and succinct than I am, and should be shared.

So please share it.

hiringamusician

 

 

Music Articles Worth Reading

And here we unveil a whole new feature idea for the blog: a list of noteworthy links to check out, should your interests run that way. If you’ve read any interesting music blogs/articles/ etc and want to post them in the comments, I’d love to check them out! Keep in mind that applies to music related writings you may have written, oh great internet-music-blogging-atmosphere.

sxsw-2013-logoHappy Readings!

  • SXSW–love it or hate it–is a big deal in the music world. For some smaller bands, playing SXSW means they’re on the verge to being “discovered” by the larger music population. But does it always? And given the increasing role sponsorships and big companies are playing, how much of this once heralded festival is truly about the music? Andrea Swensson, a music reporter at Minnesota Public Radio and a long time SXSW attendee shares her thoughts. Why I’m Not Going to SXSW This Year
  • SXSW by the music! The great thing about this little thing we call the internet is that you don’t have to go to SXSW to experience new music, especially when the staff at NPR are so good about putting together music lists. If you’ve got some time to kill and want to check out who’s playing in Austin, check out this excellent and exhaustive list. The Austin 100. Oh, and if you’re not the biggest music geek in the world, you might not know this, but the staff at NPR’s All Songs Considered do a GREAT job with daily recaps. So if you want to live SXSW vicariously, subscribe to the NPR ASC podcast asap.
  • If you’re a music person, then chances are you’ve already heard this bit of news. The ambassador for Record Store Day 2013 (April 20!) has been chosen and is none other than Jack White. Given his love of records and all the great work he’s been doing with Third Man Records, he is unquestionably the PERFECT fit. Add his incredible love for records and we have to ask ourselves, was there really any other candidate? Anyway-he issued a fantastic statement which everyone should add to their reading list. Whether you totally 100% agree or think he’s full of it, it brings up some good thoughts.
    As Record Store Day Ambassador of 2013 I’m proud to help in any way I can to invigorate whoever will listen with the idea that there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves. ” Read the rest of his statement HERE.
  • Speaking of Third Man Records, have you heard that Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) is about to be the latest artist on Third asraMan Record to make a 7-inch with the label?  She and Ruby Amanfu will be doing reinterpretations of Rodriguez’s “I Wonder” and Memphis Minnie’s “When My Man Comes Home”. Read a bit more here.
  • Ok–final mention of SXSW in this entry, I promise. I’m sure you’ve heard whispers about a documentary that’s all about Kathleen Hanna and her work? Maybe you even helped fund it during their kickstarter campaign? Well, this SXSW the film (by Sini Anderson and Tamra Davis), The Punk Singer premiers. March 10. If you can make it to SXSW and somehow crash that movie, you’ll have to let me know how it is. ’till then, I’ll have to wait until I can finally check it out. (SOOOOO EXCITING!!!! OMG!!!) Kathleen Hanna posted about it on her blog, and a small excerpt (and then you can go read the rest of it HERE): “It has been really fun watching old footage of Bikini Kill , as that’s something I’ve never done before. I have now officially realized why we seemed so fucking nuts to people, and I say that with an absolute beaming pride. I can’t believe any of my bandmates took such a leap of faith and let me play music with them.”
  • Kate Nash’s new Album, “Girl Talk” came out this Tuesday! Have you bought it? Listened to it? what are your thoughts?

What have you been reading? What new albums have you bought? What’s making you happy this week! Talk about it in the comments! Cheers!

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution May Reflection

May has been a month of extreme growth and development, for both myself personally and for When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic. Huge, Wonderful, Incredible changes. 2012 will be a year I remember for a long time (and the year’s not even over!)

First of all: in the spirit of taking risks, embracing the punk aesthetic that I love so much (yet find myself terrified to fully embrace), and celebrating 2 years of When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution as an open mic–I dyed my hair pink. Let me repeat that one more time, in case you are skimming over and missed that previous line. I DYED MY HAIR PINK. Not pastel pink. No light or subtle colors for me. This is the first time I’ve ever dyed my hair like this, and there is no halfway point on this. As soon as I promised myself that THIS was the month that it would happen, I knew that the only way to do this would be as bright and bold as possible. and voila. The whole process was made exceptionally easy thanks to a friend of mine who generously agreed to help me make this the best experience ever. She did such a great job! The success of this is so much a part of her excellent abilities, and you’ll have to excuse me, but she is amazing. Her name, if you’re curious, is Tami Porter-Jones and she’s a pretty fabulous writer, and her first book is out and available on amazon. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, of stories with characters who draw you in, and great writing, then you should for sure check out her book, which is available on amazon or right here. Do yourself a favor and get in on the action.

So yeah. My hair is now bright pink. And I’m loving every second of it.

This month has also made me acutely aware of how important starting the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic/community was. It’s been an incredible two years, full of a lot of wondering “am I doing the right thing?” and “is this going to last/be worth it?” The answer was always pretty obvious, but here, two years later, the answer is unquestionable. YES. It was. And it’s an amazing community of writers/performers and I’m so grateful to see how it’s grown and developed, with such an amazing group of core supporters and new people at the same time. There is DEFINITELY a reason this little open mic with a huge spirit won City Weekly’s Best Poetry Open Mic in 2012.

A little food for thought, should anyone outside of Salt Lake read this post/about the awesome that is WSSIHtR: Don’t spend your time wishing that something like this existed in your area. Seriously. All it takes is the guts to start your own revolution. You say you want a space dedicated to creative women writers and musicians? Make it happen. Talk to your friends. Talk to venues around your town. Coffee shops, bookstores, libraries–find somewhere! And the best part about organizing an open mic that people don’t really tell you (especially when you’re *just* starting out) is how freakin’ easy it is. Bring the passion. Bring the support. Advertise as much as you can over facebook. Invite everyone you meet. Post fliers everywhere. And most of all: BE THERE. Be ready for nights that ROCK, where the talent is so dynamic and contagious that you’re freewriting poetic verse by the end of the night even though you’ve never been a poet. Be ready for the nights where it is your small core group sharing stuff in a supportive environment, testing out new/old material among friends. Be prepared for these and everything in between. Most of all–be persistent. In creating a community like this, it’s you who has the role of the fearless leader. Without you this wouldn’t exist. Don’t give into your fears. Embrace that inner pit bull, grab the bone and GO.

They say that you are your own worst enemy. What they don’t say ENOUGH is the more important message that the movie Whip It conveys.

YOU ARE YOUR OWN HERO.

It’s up to you to create, to bring people together, to make a scene, to start your own damn revolution….so what are you waiting for?

This message is absolutely something I’ve learned over the trials and successes of running the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic, and if you are interested in more information, in starting your own variation on the theme, please feel free to let me know, either in the comments or an email at rebelgrrrl.theblog at gmail.com

Final thought for this post: having a project like WSSIHtR has been a really interesting way to track my growth. The very first open mic two years ago, I was so terrified being onstage, in front of people. SO terrified. And now here I am running City Weekly’s Best Poetry Open Mic and just last weekend I hosted the Salt Lake City Women of the World Poetry Slam qualifier. That was unquestionably the biggest thing I’ve done to date. The community and spirit of slam was actually part of my influence in starting WSSIHtR, and hosting a slam event is COMPLETELY different from an open mic–at least in terms of format. The general idea is the same. Thanks to my two years with WSSIHtR, thanks to my learning to come to terms with being in front of people, sharing my own words, my own spirit, and offering myself up to the altar of the creative community has taught me a lot. And I rocked the slam as the host. So much fun. It was definitely a learning experience in terms of the stuff that was different from slam to open mic, and I was far from perfect, but I did my best to keep up the energy and got the hang of it pretty well. For me being onstage is a unique experience. I am myself, but amplified. Weird sentiment but totally accurate. I don’t really disguise myself in a character created exclusively for the stage, and for me I think it works. It’s definitely more vulnerable, when people are seeing you pretty much as you are, but once you realize that you’re in control, that you’re the driver and by the way, you’re kick ass, it’s pretty fun. It’s getting to a point that works that is the real challenge. And it doesn’t come overnight. But damn is it a learning experience, and one that leads to more self-knowledge, more self-confidence, and a bigger appreciation for all the little steps that led you to your state of knowledge.

It’s on that note that I’ll end this blog with a BIG GIANT shout out to everyone past and present who has helped make When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution such a huge success. While it takes one person to lead, an open mic like this cannot exist without a supportive and engaged community. And everyone adds to the spirit that is built up over time. 

Also–the future is shining pretty brightly. When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is getting better every day.

–One last note, and I ended the May WSSIHtR open mic with this idea–When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution started on a dare, on a vague notion that something like this could happen and work, but no certainty whatsoever. It’s through dares like this one that hidden paths can be uncovered, that monsters can be defeated, that we can learn to overcome our fears. So for the month of June (and beyond?)–be daring. Have you always thought that your hair would be cooler neon green? Screw convention–do it! Have you been wanting to do something but you keep convincing yourself out of it? Stop rationalizing your fears. Dare yourself to do one thing every month that scares you. Just try. Even if it’s not the best experience in the world, you’ll have learned something. And we live once. What are we living for if we’re too cautious? Too safe? Give yourself permission to start your journey to flight.

Art Matters: An Interview with Dominique Ashaheed

There’s something sacred about the art of poetry. It’s more than just putting words to paper. It’s an art that can convey emotions/thoughts/history in ways that people don’t always expect. Sometimes it’s shocking, sometimes transcendent. And some poets have that direct line to making poetry spiritual & inspirational. 

Dominique Ashaheed is one of those poets. If you haven’t heard of her–don’t worry. She’s still relatively new to the scene, although she is already creating waves around her. She began slamming in February 2011 and already has two national claims to fame: first when she qualified for Denver’s Slam Nuba team that won the 2011 Championships and then again when she claimed the national title at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in March of 2012.

I was lucky enough to witness her performance at the Women of the World finals. She was incredible. She held the stage and whenever she came up to perform, she commanded the stage. The audience was held captive in her capable abilities, following the anger, following the pauses, following the poignancy and urgency of every word.

So like I said, no worries if you haven’t heard of her, but shh. Listen up. This is your time to introduce yourself to her. And now that you’ve been introduced, be sure to follow her adventures through her website 

INTERVIEW:

1.  I understand from your bio page that your entry into slam is pretty recent, and you’ve already made such huge waves. I understand that the form of slam poetry was a suggestion from a friend but I was wondering: what was it about slam poetry that drew you in and held you? 
Indeed I was extraordinarily skeptical about Slam. For me, there was something very disconcerting about assigning a numerical value to what someone wrote and then elected to perform. How can you so whimsically judge a poem? I struggled with that and struggle with it still. I also didn’t like what to me looked like pantomime and theater as opposed to an authentic rendering. And I still think Slam contains that. I chose to slam because my longtime friend Ayinde Russell persuaded me to try my hand at it before I concluded that it had no value. Simple enough concept. And it doesn’t hurt that I am competitive.
2.  As a relative newcomer to slam, how does it feel to have made the impact that you have, both at Nationals with Slam Nuba and this previous March at Women of the World Poetry Slam? 
I am humbled by the “impact” I have made on Slam both on Nuba’s championship winning team and as the Women of the World champion. I am still unpacking it all lot be honest. I don’t have a clear answer as to why people respond to me/my work the way they do. I am often surprised. I write for me and I am unafraid.
3. What has it been like to be part of Slam Nuba? And what makes Slam Nuba special?
Being a part of Slam Nuba was an interesting exercise in compromise and creative stretching and growing. All of us are so different. So very very different. We write differently. We approach writing differently. Our voices are so very much our own. There are no borrowed voices on Nuba. All of us had to figure out how to honor our own unique voice and process as well as marry that with four other voices and perspectives to say something meaningful. I think what made us special is that we pay real attention to intention. Why we write. Have we said it well enough? Clearly enough? I also think we worked harder than other folks. We rehearsed on average for about 12-15 hours per week for four months. And we had an incredibly committed and critical coach in Jen Rinaldi. She never allowed us to take the easy route. Or the convenient one.
4. Tell me a little bit about your various art projects. I understand that you’ve been involved as a vocalist and are part of Free Verse in addition to your poetry. Tell me a bit more about Free Verse as far as its founding and what sort of magic happens under the Free Verse banner. 

Free Verse is the Spoken Word Duet consisting of me and Ayinde Russell. We work because we know each other. We are family. There is a synchronicity that makes the writing process organic. We both love music and rely on it for our own specific well being. We sang together in a choir in high school. We had similar experiences growing up in the same Northea
st Denver community and attending elementary, middle, and high school together, in almost all white environments. The cultural scarring was rather deep for us both. We write about that. We write as a means to meet barbarism with beauty. It’s awesome.
5.  I understand you are a program coordinator at a Peace Jam, which sounds like an amazing non-profit. How did you get involved and what do you do with Peace Jam? Does your work with Peace Jam have an effect on your writing/art? 
I am proud of my work with PeaceJam. I have always been good in a classroom. I have always loved working with young people. I am, by design, an advocate for children and folk whose voices have been relegated to the margins. PeaceJam allows me to be my best self and to do work that I believe in. It supports my writing the way everything else does. The writing is the stuff that is my life, all of my life. The people in it. The experience of being woman, being black, being a mother, being. Just, being.
6. Speaking of inspirations, who are some of your inspirations? What keeps you writing/creating when circumstances get tough? 
I draw inspiration from everywhere. I am inspired by my mama who is in every way supernatural and wonderful. I am inspired by my children who show me what I need to work on and what I am doing right. I am inspired by my husband Taj who is brilliant and supportive and strong and whose love is all encompassing. I am inspired by my history, personal and cultural. I am inspired by my community. By music. By faith. By my own resilience.
7. Why do you create/perform? 
Um…I create/write because I will die if I don’t.
8. Between family/art/work, you must be pretty busy. How do you manage to do all that you do without going crazy? 
I do go crazy. I AM something of a nut job. But there is a lot of beauty in the madness and I am grateful for all of the things I negotiate and the hats I wear. I have an abundant life. I have the whole world in my hand for real. And I ain’t mad at it.
9. What lies ahead for you as far as your slam/art ventures? Where can people look out for you? 
I don’t have a hankering to slam right now. My first year out I got a championship on a team and another individual championship with WOWPS. I’m good. I am interested in reading without the distraction of time constraints and scoring. I’m sure I will change again but for right now I’m feeling complete. I am interested in coaching or being support but that’s about the sum of it right now. I am doing a lot of traveling and performing for colleges and universities throughout the country with Ayinde. We have been getting a lot of bookings and I have been and will be very busy for quite a while.
 
10. For those who are developing as writers/poets–what words of wisdom do you have? 
Only wisdom I can offer to writers is to keep writing and keep reading. Be vigilant about it. Write everyday. Make it be as important to you as eating and sleeping. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. But for me, the things I was refusing to say cluttered up the things I was trying to say. I stopped the internal critique. Did away with the fear. And the words were waiting for me…and it’s a blessing. One that has saved my life.
Videos:
(the video angle is a bit odd on this one, but keep in mind: this is the poem that sealed her victory at the Women of the World Poetry slam. Haunting to the core, it will remain with you after the video is done.)

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution + UHC BOOK FESTIVAL

Great, great news to start a Friday!

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution will be an exhibitor at the Utah Humanities Council’s 14th Annual Book Festival! How exciting is that? A celebration of books + A celebration of words and writing? I can think of no better way to spend a day.

For those of you unfamiliar with the When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic–we are an open mic that meets once a month with a focus on encouraging and supporting the voices of women and the trans community. When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is an open mic dedicated to being there for those who have felt marginalized and those who are ready to start a creative revolution within their own lives. For more information, feel free to check out this interview I did with Gavin Sheehan, of City Weekly’s Gavin’s Underground.

And the Book Festival is going to be amazing. The big day for the festival is the 22nd of October, but keep in mind that events will be going on statewide for the entire month! Check the website for more information and to find out if your favorite authors will be hitting your town!

A few things:

In readiness for this awesome opportunity, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution will be having our first zine! For Salt Lake/Utah artists and writers–SUBMIT YOUR WORK!! If you believe in the mission of When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution–I want you! If you believe in creative revolutions–I want you! If you believe that feminist art is an important aspect of the larger art/creative scenes–I want you! Submit your stuff NO LATER than Sunday the 16! (please!) The email to send it to: rebelgrrrl.theblog@gmail.com

I’ll also be looking for people interested in helping with tabling on the big day, Saturday October 22! If you’re free to be around, please let me know! It’ll be a super fabulous day and I’m so excited to be a part of it!!

(PS: This is Day 5 of my blog-a-day challenge!)

JUNE OPEN MIC

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is super proud to be a part of Salt Lake City’s Ladyfest 2011!  And this month’s open mic will be a super special evening of awesome. How so, you ask? This month’s open mic we will have a special theme (should you want to bring themed works!) which will be:

Rock’n’Roll.

For some, rock and roll is fun. Good background noise. For others, rock and roll is LIFE. It’s the breath that is required to exist.

What does music mean to you? Who are your favorite musicians and why? What makes a song matter/what songs have changed your life?

We will be taking donations (not required!) to help fund Ladyfest SLC 2011! Hope to see ya’ll there! (costumes are super encouraged!!)

As always, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is an open mic that is dedicated to focusing a light on the voices of women and the trans community in Salt Lake City! This open mic is intended to be a safe and inclusive event for everyone. All are welcome to attend and be a part of When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution.

Riot Not Quiet! The Week Ahead in SLC

Keep in mind that this list is far from comprehensive and may well be updated as more information is forthcoming!

Tuesday April 5

  • The Kills “Blood Pressures” released in stores! Get your copy today.
  • Beats Antique and Mount Kimbie at the Depot (400 W South Temple)8pm; $10/$15 Day of
    Middle Eastern and Gypsy music meet electro-acoustic hip hop breakbeats when Beats Antique and Mount Kimbie perform live April 5th

Wednesday April 6

Thursday April 7

  • Friday April 8 Lenka at In The Venue (219 S 600 W) Doors @6; $13 adv/$15 day of
    Lenka‘s music evokes primal emotions, unblemished by pretense or cynicism and unashamed of cracking a smile occasionally.

Saturday April 9

  • Cat Palmer exhibit “Revisited” at Jed’s Barbershop, 212 S 700 E. 8:30-10:30
    Cat Palmer is a local photographer whose work focuses on the strength of women. To say her work is powerful is an understatement. Her work has been featured in a variety of local galleries including the Hive as well as the Utah Arts Festival.
  • The Joy Formidable at Kilby Court (741 S Kilby Court) doors at 7pm; $12
    With a sound that melds the huge expanses of their native Mold countryside to the hectic nature of their new domicile, The Joy Formidable create a music that is by turns sublime and gothic, punctuating passages of sheer beauty with shards of dissonance and anger, a new loud quiet dynamic for a new decade.

Have something you want to see on the Riot Not Quiet calendar event listing? send your tips to rebelgrrrl.theblog@gmail.com or find When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution facebook page!