Welcome to the Heart of Darkness

(It’s not that bad, and there are bagels)

First things first… if you don’t know the backstory of how my writing partner, Kay Hanley and I ended up worrying our pretty little heads about the Heart of Darkness that is the “future of the music business in the digital age,” read this: What the F#*% Is Going On And What the F#*% Do We Do About it?  It describes the course of events leading up to NOW!

Speaking of “NOW,” before you read any further, are you a songwriter? For a living? And are you based in Los Angeles? (Or at least work here a lot?) If so, sign up as a member of SONA.  

Did you do it?  Did you sign up? If you didn’t, go back a sentence and click on the gray words. It’s very easy. I’ll wait.

Done? OK.  What you just did, is you added your name to the membership of the: 

SONGWRITERS OF NORTH AMERICA (LOS ANGELES BRANCH)

You are very impressive.  

And that thing you just did right there could be the culmination of your job as an activist for creators’ rights.  Pretty painless, right?  You added to our numbers.  And numbers (and data) are important to people in Washington who deal with these kinds of things.  So thank you.

Of course, it doesn’t have to end at that.  Maybe you like this “getting informed/getting involved” thing.  If so, and if your curiosity has been peaked, we have a LOT here on this very website to get you up to speed.  You may go down a wormhole of information that that pisses you off, or depresses you or makes you want to do something else for a living.  I’ve been there.  It’s what happens.  You find out how sh*#ty the streaming rate is for songwriters and you follow the information down, down, down.

You find out that a big reason for the sh*#ty rate is the money grab the major labels did with the streaming companies back when we were all holed up in studios, busy writing away, trying to get cuts and singles back in, oh, 2010 or so (sigh). THEN, you find out that the reason the labels were able to get away with the money grab is because our songwriter royalties are subject to these archaic government regulations placed on ASCAP and BMI (the very UN-sexy consent decrees).  THEN you find out that our publishers are in on it with the labels (they’re the same companies, natch). THEN, you find out that all this intra-music-business squabbling is baby stuff compared to the mountains of money being made from music by the “big tech” companies through ad-revenue supported piracy!!! And then… THEN you hear that the end game of those big tech companies is the “death of copyright” and “crowdsourced” content.  

This is where the Heart of Darkness gets really f#*%ing dark.

So, you can either start working on your barista skills.

As in, “Welcome to Starbucks, may I take your order?” 

OR >>> you learn as much as you can, start talking to your other songwriter friends about this bullshit, STOP being so complacent and START fighting the f#*% back. 

This is what SONA is doing.  

We’re inviting you, warmly and gently, to join us here in the Heart of Darkness.  If you sign up, you’ll receive information about our salon-style speaker events. We serve bagels.  We chat.  We ask questions. We break it down. We attempt to figure this sh*# out.  And, I’ve been told, we say “f#*%” a lot.  Perhaps too much.  But, f#*% it.

Ultimately, we come out on the other side a little less terrified than before.  Hopeful, even.

I mean, the Apple Music launch had a bunch of us doing a happy dance from the pure relief of getting to enjoy listening to music again.  People are digging it.  It’s looking like they’ll “buy in” and the paid subscription rate will jump up!  

But then we’re back at the sh*#ty rate, right?  Which is why we’re all here in the first place.

So I offer you this simple concept, complete with it’s own hashtag.  Do with it what you will…

#GetTheRateRight

xoxo - Michelle