Monday, December 23, 2013

The Lower East Live EP by Teresa Jenee

Gorgeous minimalist soul ballads and experimental melodic chord progressions reminding us to connect. It's Teresa and her keys creating the music in the silence between notes. The Lower East Live, an EP recorded at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC can also be described as a "moment of zen."

It starts out with The Storm, a sound check that tosses in mishappenings in such rhythm and with such certainty that it's hard to believe they weren't orchestrated.

The second, Tahitian Vanilla,  conveys a reminiscence of ballads such as Ode to October with visual sound that enables the listener to hear the fragrance of an easy development from Haiku-esque wonder into a violent jazzy scat before returning home to nature.

Next, Cleopatra Love & War giving us piano accented by strings and an unsettling love story.

Finally, Electric Yellow, a remix that reminds us that Teresa was always a genius.

The Lower East Live EP  provides a brilliant re-interpretation of Electric Yellow complete with crowd participation. I'm both inspired and on the edge of my seat. And the artwork is dope.

Pop Robbery: What to do if you get robbed.

It happens a lot: Pop hop stealing beats from indie artists. Portland, OR based Indie hip hop news source, We Out Here Magazine, recently broke a story about a Portland artist who may have gotten robbed.

Rumor has it that there was "controversy surrounding the new Rick Ross x Jay Z track Devil Is A Lie where KE On A Track has been accused of stealing the beat from Major Seven. Well the story gets murkier and took a turn into Portland when Complex writer Edwin Ortiz traced the beat to new rapper Manny Monday’s October single, OG Shit, which he had reported as produced by Lex Luger" (We Out Here Magazine, Dec. 20, 2013).

Photo courtesy of We Out Here Mag
Often, indie artists feel like their hands are tied when they get violated by pop artists but pop artists are subject to the same laws everyone else is subject to. If a copyright is infringed upon, it's up to the artist to hold the thief accountable or not.

First of all, what's a copyright?
In short, a copyright is the right of an artist to make money off of copies of their art. If you have a copyright and somebody else is making money off your shit without your permission, they have violated your copyright.

Once you fix your work into a tangible medium, you technically own a copyright. So if you type your lyrics on a computer, you have a copyright. If you save your beat in Pro Tools, Fruityloops, Audacity, Garage Band, or any other mixing software, you have a copyright. If you create a video of yourself performing your song, you have a copyright. If you print the lyrics to your song on a T-shirt, you have a copyright. Even if you write a status on Facebook you own a copyright to that status.* Most of these electronic media have time stamps associated with whatever is saved or posted, so this can help to determine when the piece was created.

HOWEVER: if you perform your song live and it is NOT recorded, YOU DO NOT HAVE A COPYRIGHT. That means that if you sing your song at an open mic and somebody goes home and records it, THEY can claim the copyright.

Based on the example of OG Shit, it is alleged that the single Devil Is a Lie violated somebody's copyright. If this ever happens to you, you have rights that you can enforce if you choose to.

1. As a precursor to all of it, make sure you own your copyright. If you signed your copyright or your masters away to somebody else, like a label, you're probably not gonna have a leg to stand on. So don't give away the rights to your shit.

2. Register your copyright with the US Copyright Office. If you find the process confusing, Youtube instruction videos can help. If you register your copyright within the FIRST 3 MONTHS of having fixed your beat or your song in a tangible medium, then you might be able to get statutory damages. That means court costs, lawyer fees and shit like that. If you don't register your copyright within the first 3 months of creating your work, you may still get damages based on what was profited, but this is harder to prove.

The Poor Man's Copyright, you know, mailing a copy of your EP or lyrics to yourself, may help establish when a piece was made, but if you want to take someone to court for real, you have to register your copyright with the Copyright Office. Show a judge an envelope with your shit in it and you will be clowned in court.

3. Get a lawyer. If it's some round the way hood shit, you may be able to just go to a civil court, show your copyright registration and get damages. But if you're going up against pop industry folks, you don't wanna be alone. You can contact your regional arts commission or your local Recording Academy chapter. These folks are artist advocates and can lead you in a direction toward success. You can also file a complaint with the FBI's cyber division. If this all sounds like some mafia gangster type shit, that's because it is.

Another option is to make more music and keep it moving, but that's that illuminati shit.


*There was some controversy recently about whether or not a person can relinquish the copyright to their original work to Facebook if they post it, but this is not the case. When posting something to Facebook, you give them a license, to make money with your shit and use it however they want to on their site, but you still own the copyright.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Twitch's Mind: Introduction to a Brilliant System

Imagine a skull, if you will, with a square shaped hole through the face of it. Running through from infinity in both directions, an industrial style, rickety, wooden railroad track. Protruding from from the temple is a lever that flicks back and forth from a tiny little embedded brass sign that says "forward" accented symmetrically with a tiny little embedded brass sign on the other side that says "backward". Now picture a train cart system of file cabinets on this train track that also sprawl infinitely in both directions. Each train cart file cabinet is stamped with a number system above the handle on their fronts. Sitting in a tiny lazy boy suspended by bungee chords to bolts drilled into the outer brows, is a tiny brilliant man with an addiction to rationalizing, and an eye on both his face and the back of his head. Perched in perfect sight of not only the numbers on the handles of the train cart file cabinets, but also their contents when requested, this tiny little brilliant man switches the lever back and forth at what appears to be thousands of miles an hour. The train cart file cabinets as expected correlate at even faster speeds as to reveal the correct file with the correct request. Imagine this is the average mind.

Now see the same scenario only the lever has been disconnected due to it's inefficiency and replaced with a twister wheel. The file cabinets are alive and speak harshly back and forth with the tiny little mohawked man suspended in mid air, darting to and fro around all sides of the talking file cabinets with bat wings and a home made pimp cane. The labels are confusingly perpendicular to the run of the train track on both temples etched in like phone numbers on a bathroom stall. One saying "fuck it" and the other saying "20/20". As they bicker back and forth for eternity the little tiny man valiantly debates very rarely with only one talking file cabinet while birds swarm around pecking at his eye in the back of his head... That's a nutshell version of a Twitch's mind... Surprisingly, this system works brilliantly...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Return of the Raw: A Mix Tape by DJ Reminise of the Soulition

DJ REMINISE, of Different, Pa Dukes, and Paper Trail fame has released a new mixtape for the lovers of mixtapes:  
RETURN OF THE RAW. It's groovy as fuck, so just hit play and pour the dranks.

Reminise is also a member of the Soul, Afro Beat, House, Deep Funk, Reggae/Dancehall, True School Hip Hop, Latin, Breakbeat, Acid Jazz, Nu Soul, Rare Groove spinnin' DJ coalition The Soulition out of STL/ATL (That's St. Louis, MO and Atlanta, GA for those who ain't hip to hood slang). members of The Soulition include Nappy DJ Needles, Enoch Is Real, DJ Reminise, Will Power, DJ J Mo, DJ Nimbus, Applejac, DJ Rahdu, DJ Cuzzin B, Frances Jaye, M Knight, DJ Kase One, DJ 76kiD and DJ Agile One. 

 Click the cover art to download RETURN OF THE RAW
(avoid downloading spam by clicking the portion of the link that reads
"click here to download from sendspace")

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's Getting Icy Out Here

The Midwest is experiencing a winter for the history books. Writer and poet Teddi B shares with us the story of how he made it to the bus this morning in a piece called "It's Getting Icy Out Here."

:::Good Morning. Here's a story:::

Good Morning, beautiful people! I would like to share my morning with you today. here's how I got my day started.

I woke up 15 minutes before I had to be out the door, after having had three hours of sleep. I lazily woke myself and got dressed and then realized I didn't have Exact change for the bus, thereby adding 3 minutes to my morning. So, as I walked into 7-11 to break a ten and get change, a Pepsi truck pulled up outside blocking my view of the bus stop. I took note and resolved to get done extra expediently.... upon leaving said convenient (albeit overpriced) store, I headed for the Pepsi truck and heard what sounded like air brakes on the other side of it (if you ride the bus you know that sound lol) so I quickly trotted around the Pepsi truck and behold the bus was there! people were getting off luckily, though I wonder where they were coming from at 6:37am...

but I digress...

So... I proceed to run for the bus, which is something I NEVER do on sheer principle. but I made the exception rather than stand in the cold for thirty minutes.

Now to the good part...

as I rounded the bus, I barely missed slamming into someone coming out of the rear door. and in my haste to apologize and make it to the summit, which was the front door, I neglected to remember that it's winter time and thus was oblivious to the patch of ice that lay between myself and my destination. I took a sprinting step and BOOM.. Down I went with a loud thud, as I attempted to catch myself against the side of the bus but only managed to draw more attention to my seemingly endless tumble... as a last ditch effort, I reached for the door, half to stay up and half, I think, because it was my destination and I was so close! I grabbed it, but it did not hold. It flexed under me and I hit the ground, my head illuminated by the interior lights of the bus, and all I could do was look up at the driver from my snow covered embarrassment and say "it's getting icy out here".

I proceeded to board and ride the bus, making no eye contact with anyone aboard.

the end.

you're welcome.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Breaking Down the Game with Christopher Burns

Photo by Darius B. Williams
We know that the music industry is changing in real time, but how do we as indie artists take advantage of the change? Art lover, sneaker mogul, and music publisher Christopher D. Burns, MFA talks about his experience and breaks down the game.

What has to happen is an empowerment of the indie artist. I don't even do music, but this spring when my shoe company was doing really well, I diversified and produced a single. I paid for the video to be shot, I paid for the beat and studio time. I didn't know anything about the publishing industry and I wanted to help, so I didn't even put the publishing under my name. I let the artist do it all and I moved him towards Tunecore. I knew that Tunecore could get the music on all of the platforms and since it was one single I let it go. He has since gotten several royalty checks on that one song, the Youtube vid is at 20K and he's been invited by emcees in Europe to do small, but paid features. (I leave the name out because this is a post for the purpose of explaining how to empower). I state all of this to say that those of us in small business have to share our knowledge. I break my neck to share what I know with people. I post it in my blog and when I write on my other blog, I share as much as I can. Breaking an artist is definitely possible and attainable. If I can make my own running shoe and sell 600 pair in competition with Nike and Adidas, emcees with the right strategies can get to the public and sell downloads. Here is how:

1. Make sure you have a web presence that is central to your brand. One place. I want to visit your site and find everything I need to know.

2. Sign up with a digital distributor like Tunecore (they will get you with BMI or ASCAP or you can sign up to keep your catalog there on your own) to have your music placed on all of the digital platforms. You can also sign up for Createspace to control this on your own and release music through - 60% of all music is downloaded on iTunes the other 30 is Amazon, the rest is Google Play, etc.

Christopher sporting ARCH sneakers
3. Get you a dedicated Youtube station which you can later monetize if you get the traffic. When you have a solid base of 2 videos sign up with VEVO which will gain you distribution and connection to other artists in the genre and VEVO has an app on Roku and other wireless streaming devices.

4. Set up your facebook page/instagram/tumblr and grant yourself a budget of 30-50 dollars per month to build likes. I know personally that every 1000 fans/likes will get you interaction with about 70 people. Yep it's that small, but the more people you have like your page the more you reach your base.

5. Make dope fucking music and believe in it.

I think it's critical that we share what has helped us. I may have put my shoe company on hiatus, but after a lot of trial and error, when I'm ready to relaunch (deeper pockets) I have 4 years of experimentation with results to go to. I'm passionate about the small biz and artists who are willing to listen and learn.

Find out more about Christopher's publishing company at When you're done, check out his sneakers at because the only thing doper than empowerment is empowerment + new kicks.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Industry Boogeyman

A friend shared this article about the challenges of women in the music industry, even more specifically, Black women's challenges.. Reading the introduction, I couldn't help but think, "what is this? Suffrage?" I am always amazed at how far behind the times the art industry can be...especially since artists are supposed to be at the forefront of societal transformation, right?

The article brought up some things that I hear ALL THE TIME but don't necessarily experience.
I see my comrades in the struggle really suffering with their creativity because of the belief that women don't get support in the music industry, that white male domination is a hindrance to women, and that there's all this pressure to be something other than who you are when you're a female artist.

Spending time in LA, I discovered that artists' emotional connection to other people's opinions is often driven by money. For artists who are driven by money, rejection can be detrimental, as it directly affects immediate cash flow. However, being true to your voice usually pays off much greater in the long run because fans know they can trust you and your message.

Ultimately, it's not about the industry peers or execs. It's about the people who are buying your music. Take care of them and they'll take care of you. At least that's been my experience. Doesn't mean that support isn't necessary to keep morale and profitability up, but when your music touches people, it doesn't matter what industry moguls think. They're trying to get to the people themselves. The people are the goal...not money. Successful artists understand this.

I want to see more women of color creating more art and not being hindered by fear of the big bad industry boogeywhiteman myth.

If you're an artist with a vagina and/or melanin who doesn't define your value based on the opinions of white men, you'll find supportive folks all over the globe coming together to keep it real post-Civil War. Folks like The Female Producers Association. 

The purpose of The Female Producers Association is to provide a creative networking outlet for women worldwide. The organization hopes to facilitate learning, long term connections and business relationships that will allow creative women to progress within their own fields and creative endeavors.

Thanks, Danielle for the information. I learned something.