I read an article yesterday written by ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, a man of many talents. Speaking out against the world’s seeming new idiotic ideas regarding free music, I believe he spoke for all of us who are involved on the creative side of music today.
Here are excerpts from the editorial entitled “The Creative Constant” that appeared in the September 12 issue of Billboard Magazine.
“I’ve been writing songs for most of my life. I know firsthand the many challenging steps it takes for a song to reach a wide audience of people. In the early years of my forty-plus years of writing I benefited from the care and expertise of a world class publisher, a record company that fostered the dreams and creative choices of their artists, and a publicity/promotion machine that made the consumers aware of what I had to offer. For many talented young writers beginning their careers today the landscape has changed dramatically.
Almost everything in the process is different. The recording of music, its delivery and promotion, the multitude of ways it can be enjoyed on a variety of wonderful devices make music available to a larger, more fractionalized audience.
It’s important to remember that at the headwaters of this grand revenue stream is the writer, perhaps working with headphones because there’s a baby sleeping in the next room or a partner that has to get up for work in the morning. Let’s continue to honor his or her gift by protecting the right of the music creator to make a viable living with their music.
What remains constant in this whirlwind of change is the art and craft of the creative process. Composers and songwriters have a unique gift – the ability to combine sparks of inspiration, imagination and life experience with talent, hard work, and often a little bit of magic, to create music that touches other people’s lives. The music creators’ gift is the engine that drives our industry. Its value should never be underestimated.
I am concerned that if music is not fairly valued or compensated, then a successful career in music will be increasingly out of reach. The viability of our industry, and in turn our greater economy, depends upon making sure that young creators have the opportunity to pursue music as a profession, not just a hobby or a vocation.
Today, like yesterday and one-hundred years before that, music creators need the space and support to free their imagination; to be open and available to that flash of inspiration when it comes out of the blue; to have stretches of time to push through the frustration when inspiration is elusive; to walk away from something, and then return again with a fresh set of ears. But they also must know that their creative work has great worth. Not just to themselves as artists, or to the people whose lives their music will enrich, but to the network of businesses whose bottom lines thrive on their creativity.
We must all work together to nurture and support a new generation of songwriters and composers and give them a realistic incentive to pursue a career. This starts with everyone in the distribution chain recognizing that the value of music should be measured at its source–in the act of its creation–when a spark can change the world.”
The above plea for respect comes at a crucial time when we stand on the threshold of making a tragic blunder. This idea of making music free will turn composers, lyricists, record producers, musicians – artists all, into hobbyists. Things are tough enough.
Here we are in the middle of one of the toughest recessions of our lives, with the entire music industry crashing down around us and the best they can come up with is to make the music free? It’s a sad state of affairs that one of our most cherished means of expression in life is now being de-valued by it’s own industry.
Led by the greed of youth, (“It’s not stealing, it’s free!”) it’s a bizarre time where the confusions of the world are seeming to be in control.
Stop the presses! Rethink this impending action! Save the artists!
Let us pray for a better way.
For more inspirational music, thoughts and ideas from Peter Link,
please visit Watchfire Music.