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The Revolution is self-publishing
Music: need not money to be recognized. Music: need not negotiation to be heard. Music: need only freedom. And then it is as it is; in the heart of its creator, directed to the hearts of the created, in an expression of the oneness of humanity.
South African jazz was faced with duality: that being the good and the bad. Good and bad walk together like brothers sometimes, caught in a constant interplay which is actually neither good nor bad, but it simply is. However very often music can rise above the simple issues of good and bad and right and wrong and become a joyous and transformative sound.
In South Africa we had five corporations joined as one running the music industry. They base their title on the size of their income. The biggest dogs are called “Major.” The opportunists are called “Minor” and they aspire to become a “Major/Minor” before taking an option to sell out their catalogue to a “Major.” And so the Majors have remained through multiple generations getting bigger and bigger slowly buying up the quickest growing Minors of each generation, until they hold it all.
We can clear up confusion by returning to more appropriate musical definitions of the term “Major”, “Minor” and “Major / Minor.” These are scales that every living human being should know. They are an important musical meditation. This is our musical power. The Major and the Minor are different progressions through the same notes. They are constructive and never destructive and they are cyclical.
On humanity's path to utilising music business (distribution of music) for the benefit of the music, music business had to evolve with the times. From record industries, to media and publishing empires, and matrixes of control, their systems of ownership were outdated. In 2006 SA was the fastest developing music market in the world, estimated R2 billion. 80% of local products reached the market through the channels controlled by the multinationals (or major record labels).
“ Historically the majors have not been supportive of the independent movement because of their bottom line to get foreign content to hold a hegemony. The existing monopoly must be deconstructed or else we will be obliterated on the information highway. In 2006 sales of international artists decreased by 11.2% & sales of South African artists increased by 19.4%: Whilst the value of the digital market was up by double. Digital frees us from hegemony to unleash the creative talent of our composers. This is a new distribution outlet for our creative wealth,” announced Glen Masokoane (DAC) at the launch of AIRCO.
Another issue with the rampant profiteering of the music industry was ownership. They had got away with this for over a hundred years through a lie they put into law. It went, “I paid for it, I own it.” NO. “You paid for it then you have the right to recoup your investment with profit. That is it.”
The emphasis must always remain with the musician who is the creator and whose role it is to continue creating. The recording industry confused the heart felt expression of music with mischievousness of the mind. The contracts that artists were made to sign were very difficult and sometimes impossible to comprehend. The purpose of these contracts was to protect the lie by casting a veil of misunderstanding between the artists and the industry, thus creating a rift between the musicians and the sustainable life generated through making music.
Record companies made it standard practice to assign themselves full ownership and exploitation rights to the recorded music, thereby increasing the gap between creator and exploiter exponentially. The vast project team consisting of composers, producers, artists, engineers and studios that created these recordings were assigned abstract royalties. These could never really amount to much, and if they did they would be balanced out with unforeseen and quite often obscene costs. It was a free party and the musicians were playing and paying.
These companies primary profits were in printing, distribution, media and other subsidiary businesses. Their limitations have been exposed.
In the world nothing is permanent. The digital era has allowed for music to break free from those who attempted to own it. Internet opened the door for the blocked up creative expression of an entire planet to come hurtling through. It was piracy (selling 'unauthorised' copies of music) that fought a duel with conspiracy (exploitation of artists) to expose the monopoly and open the doors of self-publishing. The music industry is free now to support people in the liberation of their emotions through expression.
The internet was the primary revolution. Thus music has been set free through the digital media, digital archiving and pirated file sharing. This system represents the one-ness to where we naturally choose to be and there are no barriers to communication and very soon to be no barriers to creation.
As our music is shared, so the information of our music is shared and so the names and repertoires of musicians enter the hearts, minds and consciousness of an ever expanding collective, and so our interactions become recognised, preserved and sustained through love. In the current day music is a sustainable cycle of knowledge flow between audience and artists. Creation is sustainable. Otherwise we would not exist! The challenge now is for the musicians to rebuild wealth, stability and success on a foundation of happiness.
Symbolically, music has broken free from the industry that tried to enslave it, music has broken free from the academia that tried to define it and music has broken free from those who tried to imitate it. Zim Ngqawana said, “I have killed ambition.” Ambition is to want to be something. We can only be ourselves. Let go of ambition and a lot of music industry initiatives in management and administration become redundant.
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Self-publishing = self-empowerment!
When the spirit of music has become accessible to one and all we would have experienced the great change. When music is entirely free to please and spread an abundance of joy to all humankind across all mediums for all eternity, we will rejoice. And when the heavenly music of the heavenly musicians exists everywhere, unbounded and unlimited we will know.
For music to experience heaven on earth music needed to find its own path through the great maze of licences, administration, fees, royalties, structures, rights and contracts of the music business. Music had to take a great journey to where music does the talking and music is shared, heard and enjoyed on the digital airwaves of unlimited choice and freedom. Today we are living in the aftermath of a great change in music business. And today we have more access to music than ever before and it is free.
Self-publishing has put the power back into the hands of the musician. With self-publishing we take responsibility. We all benefit through self-publishing. “People depend on people to exist as people,” is the given definition of uBuntu. We are a human family throwing out an old system where middle men (publishers) decide for us and judge us; to a new system where we choose for ourselves. We create our musical narratives and we create our musical identity.
With music the creative channel from where it emerges is mostly clear minded, fair minded and blissful. The outside environment and the world will reflect this.
The task at hand is to release all the creative blockages that have built up on the back of all the rejections and suppression musicians have been made to experience in the past. There is no rejection, only acceptance. This is the true path. We have the capacity to decide for ourselves: Is my work proficient, is my work sufficient?
As soon as we can answer yes to that question we are ready to self-publish. Self-publishing is an uBuntu strategy. In the words of Mohammed Ali “ ME WE !”
Self-publishing brings the individual, the family and the community together because that is what sustains it. It is a powerful development strategy that recreates the co-dependent inter-relationship between artist and audience. Self-Publishing bridges the gap between self-expression and the sharing of knowledge. Immediate, unrestricted feedback is always available. Thus wisdom is open minded and open sourced and so self-publishing is a tool in the education of the artist him/herself. Self-publishing is a tool of equality and removes any perceived gaps in information, understanding and accessibility. It brings light to all music on an equal and accessible platform.
Nowadays when one does great work it can live on. Self-publishing is an important step in self-empowerment. Self-empowerment is the first step in other empowerment. The digital platform is a transparent and incorruptible system. It is a great help in the direction of economic quality.
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