Event Review: #IRespectMusic – Music Activism Event at the Legendary Bitter End Club

I Respect Music imageDate: October 14, 2014
Venue: The Bitter End (NY)

Review by Dawoud Kringle

“We artists and musicians have the right to expect from our profession what others expect from their professions. That through hard work and determination, perspiration and inspiration, we’ll have the same fair shot to realize our dreams, answer our callings, support our families. I respect my profession. I respect artists. I respect music.”

(Blake Morgan, recording artist, producer, label owner and “I Respect Music” or “#IRespectMusic’s” founder; from The Huffington Post, December 18th, 2013)

Blake Morgan opened the event and gave a discourse on the purpose of #IRespectMusic (IRM).One interesting thing he pointed out was that the United States is the only democratic country in the world where artists don’t get paid for radio airplay. Other countries that share the United States’ position on this issue include Iran, North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Rwanda.

After the presentation of a short promotional video, City of the Sun, an acoustic trio, did a lively and impressive acoustic performance.

Morgan returned to give a very informative and inspiring discourse on how IRM began, the inspiration behind it, and some interesting facts about what successes have been achieved so far.

After a performance by Jus Post Bellum, and a short promo video, Morgan returned and introduced Congressman Jerry Nadler. Nadler gave a brief speech about the importance of artists getting paid. He is also putting together legislation to insure that this happens,

Morgan returned, and pointed out how a great number of influential celebrities are behind IRM. Soundexchange.com is behind it. He explained how SoundExchange is the independent nonprofit performance rights organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties to featured artists and copyright holders. They are to artists what ASCAP and BMI are to songwriters.

After singer / songwriter Coyle Girelli offered a marvellous performance, Morgan shared the adventures of IRM going to Capitol Hill, and actually garnering support from the political constituency of the US Government.

Finnish artist Janita, an executive of IRM, spoke for a moment. She mentioned that, being a native of Finland, she grew up with the expectation that artists should be paid. She was shocked that the US doesn’t do this. She also mentioned that, her having just become a US citizen, meant a 1/3 reduction in her income. Then she offered a beautiful interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Morgan returned, and offered his final thoughts. Among them was a quote by the late President John F. Kennedy: “I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist” (from a speech at Amherst Collage, 10/26/63).

The conclusion is obvious: our work as musicians is an irreplaceable cornerstone of this civilization and our impoverishment is its ruin. The message is clear: artists must be paid.