In the United States, on July 4th, we’ll once again be celebrating the affirmation of our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. I’ve linked in the Declaration of Independence for you to read because the time has come in our individual countries and within this industry to risk and speak out.
Risking is something composers don’t do because they’re afraid they might make someone mad. Composers also don’t do a very good job of cooperating with other composers to assure a better common good. The result of that in the United States is that composers, because of failed efforts to organize, have no bargaining chips.
At the performing rights society (PRO) level, what’s promoted is be happy, don’t rock the boat.
It strikes me, as I’m about to throw a chicken on the barbecue, that what PROs and many manufacturers want is for us to be that nice kid in the third grade, who sits in the back of the class, does his homework and rarely raises his hand unless he has to go to the restroom.
But how is that any different from being a dog who gets patted on the head for being, “a good doggie?”
Seriously. Think about it. In the world of composing, what’s the difference between being a “good boy” and a “good dog”?
I don’t think there’s a lot. I think the expectation when it comes to paying composers is that we should be happy for what we get. Of course, this isn’t helped by younger composers with no experience, who, to get the gig, will either do it for nothing, next to nothing, or in some cases, actually pay the producer to get the gig so a credit can be added to the resume.
Where has this, “I’m out for myself and screw you,” attitude lead us?
A partial list includes:
- no bucks on downloaded TV episodes
- no bucks or virtually no bucks on watching TV shows streamed on the Internet on sites like HULU.com
- no bucks on smaller cable channel viewing
- few if any medical insurance benefits
And the list goes on. In fact, please feel free to add to it.
On the Mac, there’s a long thread developing at VI-Control.net/forum regarding problems with Mac Pro’s, Soundflower, Leopard, et al. You should read it. Using a business term, I wonder how many man-hours are being lost trying to get these combinations to work, especially for those who bought into the promise of the new 8 Core Mac Pros?
I have two clients sequencing on the Mac. I’ve now made this suggestion. Don’t buy a new 8 Core. Too many hassles. Instead, get a good G5 2.7 GHz system, max it out with 8GB of RAM, and get two 64bit PCs to put your plug-ins on. Soundflower is a freeware program. And when your career is now being shaped by a freeware program, it’s time to send a message to Apple: WE’RE NOT BUYING UNTIL YOU FIX THIS. The best way to send that message is to buy a pre-owned G5 and PCs.
Bet you won’t see a PC/Mac commercial on that!
Then there’s the matter of VAT (Value Added Tax) that International customers must pay when ordering from the US. The requested solution from many international customers is: LIE! That’s right. Falsify the value on the shipping forms. Here’s how one company has responded on their web site under International Shipping:
Unfortunately declaring less than the true value is both a violation of American law and the laws of most other countries. In addition, we could lose the right to export to your country should it ever be discovered that we were misrepresenting the value. Also, we cannot insure the package for more than its declared value, which in cases of a mishandled package could end up costing you a lot more than you would save.
If you’re not happy with VAT issues in your country, is the right thing to do when ordering from the U.S.:
a. carp about VAT and ask a dealer to lie and potentially save you a few bucks while risking going out of business?
b. raise your voice with your local officials and explain why lowering the VAT on music software improves the economy?
In all three issues, the message from the Founders of the United States is, “get together and collectively speak out.”
The path of least resistance is to write lonnnnngggggg diatribes on the various forums as opposed to looking up who your local official is and sending them that letter. And maybe follow up with a phone call.
You can write many elected officials by e-mail.
So the same energy you put into a forum venting your spleen (as we say in the South), you can put into an e-mail that might do something.
Of course, this requires ending the passivity we are expected to continue. It means asking more questions, speaking out more, and speaking out to right the people.
What this really means is being responsible politically on those issues which so affect you, regardless of your country. One thing is certain. If you don’t speak out, no one will do it for you.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to turn the chicken before it burns.