People see things differently. They just do.
We humans will argue over everything from the proper way to scramble eggs, to how taxes should be collected …to whether or not we should even HAVE taxes in the first place.
We form our opinions based on our experiences. I’ve read where people who graduate from college tend to lean more liberal in their politics. People who go directly into the work force, tend to lean more conservative.
I fall into the later category. I didn’t get a scholarship to any college and my family couldn’t afford to send me for four years. So I dropped out after they had paid for as much as they could afford, and I went to work. I chased my dreams. I worked multiple jobs. I cleaned buildings and waited tables and did odd-jobs and hustled my butt off. In the cracks of all that, I wrote songs. A lot of songs.
And over time, I was able to turn a weird little talent into a big house and a nice car and great vacations. And nobody at any government agency helped me get there. THEY didn’t build that …I did. And I didn’t take public assistance, or food stamps or anything I probably could have. I just used their roads and infrastructure. And I paid them for it …I paid them A LOT for it.
In my own experience, government has never been anything efficient or sleek or state-of-the-art or cutting edge. I have always seen it as a necessary slog that operates at a functionary level. Because government floats toward mediocrity.
There’s nothing inherently evil in or wrong with people who work in government. I find many of them to be doing it out a sincere sense of duty and honor to their country. The problem with government is simply the nature of it. It, in and of itself, has no built-in incentive for anyone or anything to excel. There are no bonus structures built in for people who hustle. There’s no upward mobility for a job well done. There’s no reason to innovate or revolutionize. There are no brainstorming meetings where ideas, possibilities and (dare I say) dreams are batted around. Nobody stands up with a “eureka” moment, in a budgetary conference meeting, and says “Wait! What if …”
Day-to-day government business is static, non-dynamic and liability encumbered.
In other words, the United States government might get to Mars before Elon Musk does. They have unlimited resources – because they can extract money from the population. But him (or someone like him) will make it a fun place to go. And he’ll do it with money that was voluntarily given to him for goods and/or services he provided the world.
Some people see the government exactly the opposite of how I just described it. Some see it as a savior of sorts; a playing-field-levelor; a refuge from the evils of greed; a backstop against the darker side of humanity. This difference in points of view is at the core; the essence of our continuing national debate. That debate has gone on for as long as this country has existed. In fact, that debate is the REASON this country exists in the first place. And that debate often makes us so angry at each other we cannot control our emotions …even when friends are in the mix.
I sat in a room yesterday with a long-time friend. I’ve known this woman for over twenty years. And we’ve worked together to try and keep each other in the music business. I’ve worked to make sure the company she works for has big hit songs to license. She has worked to make sure I’ve gotten paid for those things. I think, in nature, this is called a symbiotic relationship.
She finds herself in the eye of a hurricane she didn’t ask to be in. The company she works for is owned by a bigger company that is openly proposing an amendment to a certain piece of legislation that directly affects songwriters and music makers of all stripes. This legislation is important. Everyone knows it. She knows it. I know it. The people openly proposing the amendment even know it.
But she is fending off hate and vitriol from people she has worked with for years, because they see her, and her company, as trying to kill their chance at finally getting an equitable solution to an inequitable problem. So rather than sitting down with her and talking about it, they’ve chosen to simply decide she must be a casualty of the fight. I don’t think like that. She’s my friend. And she’s earned a face-to-face meeting.
I’ve net with the other side many times. I know their position. They are friends of mine as well. So this is a weird time for all of us.
My songwriter friends probably want me to get into the specifics of this issue. But it’s all very complicated and convoluted for anyone who doesn’t make a living as a songwriter or a song publisher. And quite frankly, more non-songwriters are reading this than songwriters.
But politics, livelihoods and passions have brought all the personality types to the surface …
There are the pragmatists who just want something …ANYTHING …done at all costs. There are the casual band-wagoneers, who know what the general issue is and want to be on the correct side of it, so they post memes and talk in general terms. There are the flame throwers, who want this to be a much bigger conspiracy, complete with evil and greed, than it actually is. And, sadly, there are the straight up cowards who dare not dig into the issue any deeper than political expediency will allow them to. They won’t risk their co-writes or their relationships with people in power, to actually make a phone call. I have no more time for those people. I don’t care how many number ones they have to their name.
Where do I fall on the MMA? I hope it passes and gets signed. And I hope everyone involved gets to stay in business and not have to fold their tents. If it passes …as is …I’ll deal with it. If it passes …with an amendment …I’ll deal with it. None of it changes the fundamental problem of getting people to hear and like your music in the first place. It only deals with what happens when they consume it. In other words, this is always going to be a tough business no matter what the laws are.
I’ve resigned myself to only allowing people to consume my music LIVE or directly through me, anyway. I’m not interested in the masses anymore. I’m only interested in you …the one still reading this. The music business for me, has gotten incredibly small and boutique. And I kind of like it that way.
As for my friends still biting their nails over sales figures and chart positions every week? I actually believe the MMA will pass, even with this hiccup. Everyone concerned (even the big, bad corporation asking for the amendment), has a reason for this to get done. And nobody wants to see us have to go back to square one. But amendments get put on bills all the time. Like, literally every day. I’m not exactly sure why everyone can’t be heard out.
I sure want to be.
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