Event Review: Musicians for Musicians’ First Open Meeting – MFM Introduces Itself To The Public

MFM jpg logoDate: December 8th, 2015
Location: CA Music Room (Manhattan)

Review by Dawoud Kringle

On Tuesday, December 8th, Musicians for Musicians, the brainchild of musician / activist Sohrab Saadat Ladjavardi, held its first open meeting at the CA Music Room in NYC.

One must wonder how the presentation of a fledgling activist foundation, which attempts to operate on an entirely unprecedented model, will be accepted. Saadat has, in fact, placed his head upon the chopping block, and risked a lot in order to realize his vision of righting a great deal of wrong in the music business. And it’s obvious Saadat’s prime motive is to help and empower musicians. His vision would provide a catalyst for musicians to become a force to reckon with.

This meeting would, in fact, determine the future success or failure of MFM.

All things considered, it was a success.

Saadat held court for much of the meeting, taking pains to explain the goals and processes of MFM, the absolutely essential need for musicians to refuse to accept the abuse and exploitation we’ve been subject to, and to take action to change this.

And he is right.

I think that the best part of the meeting was the opening up of new ideas, and expression of different perspectives on old ones. The operational parameters of MFM were challenged and criticized in a way that searched for potential flaws; not to bring it down, but to support it and see to its success. This was brought to the table side by side with all manner of good ideas that show how multi-faceted the possibilities of MFM can be.

One essential idea that was voiced was the inescapable need to more clearly define a workable business model that MFM will operate from. MFM is still a work in progress. Despite being Saadat’s vision, no one person can define MFM in its totality. An infusion of new ideas and perspectives is essential for its survival and success.

Another idea that was brought up was the consideration of an ecological economy in the music business. To be sure, that ecology is experiencing an unmitigated disaster! But looking at it from a complete perspective is a key to not only diagnosing the real nature of the problems, but implementing a workable remedy.

This was explored from a variety of perspectives. Kali Z. Fasteau (multi-instrumentalist, composer) was in attendance. She mentioned the avoidance of bars and nightclubs. These venues have a track record of not only abusing musicians, but also creating an environment antithetical to the presentation of quality music. But while I personally think that avoiding them is a good idea (I believe that if you can’t beat them, starve them), they can’t be ignored. There are always going to be people who will go to clubs, who will associate clubs and bars with music, and who insist upon partying like a rock star to a backdrop of noisy music: and there will always be musicians who will insist upon playing in them. Ignoring this fact was an error on my part. Now, I’m forced to factor this into my assessment.

On a personal note, I’ve been advocating working toward building an autonomous and independent music business model. I mentioned my own independent (and very modest) concert productions. I believed from the beginning that this is a key to a solution; and I believe that now more than ever. For my own part, I will continue to do this.

Saadat offered a brief moment where he played a beautiful bluesy soprano saxophone solo, and then began a chant / rap of the main slogan of MFM: “Making Music is a Profession.” Despite the incongruity and near solecism of this interlude, his intention was obvious: start a musician’s meeting with music and spoken word. Clearly influenced by his socialist beliefs (Saadat is a staunch proponent of socialism, and often thinks within the ideological paradigms of socialism. This will doubtless influence the future of MFM as an ideology, organization, and business model), he wanted to present MFM’s slogans in a musical format similar to a labor protest song.

If the first public meeting is any indication, it is possible, and well within the realm of probability, that MFM members will find common ground to work from. To be sure, the tone and mood of the meeting, and the aggregate of ideas discussed, foretold a very promising beginning, and the possibility that Saadat’s vision will evolve into an impressive entity.